Those of us at South Carolina Interfaith Power & Light seek to bring the type of peace that I felt at Fondes Amandes to others throughout our home state and around the world. We know that trees improve the health of those in close proximity to them. Trees not only cool down the area, which is becoming even more appreciated as deathly heat waves continue to happen in different parts of the world, trees also remove pollutants from the air. Scientists have also concluded that trees reduce depression and stress and increase lifespans. I know that my life force was increased by the journey to higher heights with my Merikin Famlee in Trinidad and I pray that the trees that were planted will speak to the souls of future generations that sit beneath their shade and share our cultural heritage traditions and connections as we did during that journey. Juss likka de tree, we rooted een who webe!
Having lived through several fires, I have a lot of love for folks that seek to prevent them like Sister Akilah and all those that work with her Fondes Amandes. I also gave thanks to GOD that I still have the ability to sing and to breathe deeply after having dealt literally with inhaling smoke in house fires. As I once again connected to the passion that Sister Akilah has for preventing fires on her island and healing the land and the people around her, I had a flashback to how our SCIPL Global Tree Project began.
I felt like I had gotten into a time machine and went back a few months to my first time beneath the virtual tree with the faith filledSouth Carolina Interfaith Power & Light family. The Spirit invoking and thought provoking dialogue led by award winning TV anchor, Carolyn Murray allowed each of us to fully express our passions for the work that we all are doing throughout South Carolina to take climate action in order to improve water, land, air quality and human health.
As I prayed and gave thanks for being able to filled my lungs with clean air, I heard the introduction of Sister Fareeha Qazi of the Islamic Society of Greenville, SC. I tuned in with my soul as her compassion for her mother exuded through the screen and tears filled the eyes of many of us seated in the Zoom room. I felt transported to Pakistan as she spoke of the polluted air and the need for the replanting of trees there. As she continued to express the immediate need for global action and how we have to realize that we are all connected, I decided to check online for Pakistan and reforestation and immediately found out that there is an initiative to plant 1 billion trees in that country. So, when Sister Murray asked “What can we do to help?” I immediately dropped a link to that initiative in the chat.
Given that I am from a hurricane zone and live on a Sea Island that is dealing with sea level rise issues, under so-called “normal circumstances,” you would NEVER hear me encouraging a Tsunami! However, I was immediately intrigued by the Billion Tree Tsunami in Pakistan. Decades of tree cutting and natural disasters drastically reduced Pakistan’s forests. Pakistan has one of the lowest levels of forest cover in the region and well below the 12% recommended by the UN. The 1 billion trees have expanded the forest via planting and natural regeneration.
I am always looking for climate action success stories and wanted to be a part of this one that will help Pakistan fight the effects of climate change. So, when I became part of SCIPL, I immediately suggested that we proceed with taking an action not only within South Carolina, but around the world. I felt like the ways that our conversations had branched out that evening via Zoom should be firmly rooted in an actual collective activity. So, it is a blessing to help launch the “SCIPL Global Tree Project.”
This project lays the common ground for people of all faiths from different corners of the world to work collectively on something greater than us all: the Planet. To the SCIPL Family, it is necessary to address these issues globally and locally. We believe in the power of trees and want to help our neighbors and our state through their healing and purifying qualities.
We want to make sure that folks in Pakistan, the midlands and upcountry of South Carolina can also breathe clean air like most of us do along the Gullah/Geechee Nation’s coast. So, we are calling on the world to “Git Rooted Wit We @GullahGeechee! Support Global Reforestry! Plant a tree!“