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The blind conservationists who’ve planted thousands of trees


Sometimes in this job I come across some deeply moving stories.

One of the groups I work with is a remarkable one – the Kwale chapter of the Kenya Union of the Blind.

Here’s what some of the group’s members told me:

“I became blind through a road accident….but I can identify different tree species just by touching their leaves”.

“Mother nature is the foundation of everything that we do……we would like our children to find a better place to live in….we have a big role in society to ensure the environment is not destroyed”.

A member of the group at work in the tree nursery. Photo: Elias Kimaru / WWF

We work with a number of community groups in Kwale, supporting them to manage the county’s natural resources in a more sustainable way. Working with this particular group presented new challenges for me, but I have fast come to learn that, with a bit of creativity, disability easily transforms into ability in conservation.

The faith, energy and passion of this group shows is beyond my comprehension. I had no option but join hands with them.

The group, which now has 23 members, all of whom are visually impaired, started in 1992 as a way of supporting each other. In 2005, they started a small tree nursery to provide seedlings for planting on their own farms and so they could earn some extra income by selling the remaining seedlings to others.

With our ongoing support, with the help of Size of Wales, the group’s nursery has flourished.

Over the last three years they have grown more than 50,000 seedlings, planting more than 10,000 in their farms and neighbouring schools.

This is great news for both the group’s earnings and the health of the surrounding ecosystem. A true ‘win-win’!

Watch this short video to find out more about the group. What do you think of this story? Let me know in the comments below.

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