When I sat with others from South Carolina Interfaith Power & Light during the screening of “The Human Element,” I gave thanks to GOD for being able to finally work with others literally on the ground in my home state that also overstood the value of achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) which were put in place to address climate change and a variety of global inequities. I had recently started expanding my engagement at the United Nations to working with the faith based community on climate action. The interesting thing was that many of them, especially in Africa, had initiated tree planting projects in their countries. Since I originated the saying, “Hunnuh mus tek cyare de root fa heal de tree,” these projects resonated with my soul because folks were seeking to root out environmental problems in their countries via efforts linked to trees. I started meditating on how I would be able to engage the faith based community in the Gullah/Geechee Nation in such a project and in assessing their own spiritual campuses to determine ways to enhance and sustain these natural and sacred spaces. As I went into the spiritual wilderness, GOD had me find the right community to connect with beneath the tree.
As I took in the passion and power of this global interfaith community and listened to the small collective efforts that were being done, I could immediately see the cumulative impact that this would have if we amplified these ideas of positive global micro-changes on a daily basis instead of simply having folks pay attention to catastrophe and disaster during the news cycle or via their newsfeeds. Instead of focusing on what town flooded today, what would happen if we flooded people’s minds with the healing things that they could do for the earth and how they could leave something that would benefit the next generation through a small action like obtaining and planting a tree and/or donating a dollar to help someone else in the world to do the same? I believe that like the Pakistani “Billion Tree Tsunami,” we could cause growth that would be healing to not only the earth, but to the humans that would later sit beneath the trees and be able to breathe in clean air.
I reflected on how I first came to appreciate the value of trees for all that they offer to the world. I remembered meeting Nadine Patrice of Haiti and learning about OGL Haiti and their reforestation efforts in her country. The Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition supported that effort and donated funds to it via our “Gullah/Geechee Nation International Music & Movement Festival™.” That festival has brought together the Gullah/Geechee, Haitian and African Diasporic family for more than a decade. Even the drums that we beat throughout the event owe their existence to the tree. So, how bout we? Hunnuh caan see?
As much as I appreciate the shade that the trees offer, there is no shade over my eyes nor my soul. I am thankful that I can see clearly the value of continuing to work with the SCIPL partners to insure that the mission in Haiti to restore the land and support those that want that island to find peace there will eventually be achieved. I cannot help but see clearly how GOD has allowed a spotlight to illuminate the multiplicity of impacts that are happening to the Haitian family so that those who normally turn a blind eye to that country are seeing it in the news as numerous upheavals including food insecurity has caused mass migrations to continue from that island into South, Central, and North America. Many times unfortunately, folks do not pay attention to issues or others that are not right at their front doors. As long as things appear to be far away, they can be forgotten. However, we are a global family and we cannot forget one another.
As I sit beneath the tree along the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, I often feel like someone in Africa is looking back at me and that someone in the Caribbean is looking back at me. What happens to someone that grew up like Sister Fareeha Qazi who grew up in a place that has such massive air pollution that she couldn’t look far in the distance and never a blue sky did she see. She, like the Haitians, had to migrate from her home country that is burdened with extreme poverty to reach the United States so that she could truly see in further in the distance. This caused her to look at a blue sky and want the same for her Pakistani family.
Recently, Sister Fareeha made a journey back to Pakistan and the sky literally had not cleared. She took the time to share this so that the world could see why their was truly the need for Pakistan to have more trees so that they literally could clear the air:
When Sister Fareeha returned to South Carolina, I had the opportunity to sit with her and Sister Alecia Brewster of South Carolina Interfaith Power & Light beneath our virtual tree where we could work to try to help the world see why we are rooted in our support of global reforestation from South Carolina and the Gullah/Geechee Nation to Haiti to Pakistan to Trinidad. We took the time to share what the month of engagement in the SCIPL Global Tree Project has brought to our minds and our souls and what we seek to bring to global soil. I pray that you will tune in to Gullah/Geechee TV and hear this power and passion filled discussion on Zooming in on Sustainability and after that, see your way to donating so that you can “Git rooted wit we @GullahGeechee and support global reforestry!“
Tenk GAWD fa healin de earth, grownin de tree, and healin we. To GAWD be de glory!
“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”