Our work started in the early 1980s with the planting of fruit trees in India. The emphasis was on creating awareness, training people to plant and take care of trees, and providing them with the resources needed to accomplish their tasks. Each recipient made a pledge to help at least two others in the same manner in which they had been helped.
The program grew rapidly in India and spread to Guatemala, Cambodia, Nepal, Costa Rica, Haiti, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. As a result, tens of millions of fruit trees have been planted.
But far more important than the number of trees planted is the fact that tree planting inspires many people to do more to help themselves. They have started projects on bee-keeping, fuel-efficient stoves, improvement of their soils, water conservation, scientific improvement of plant breeding materials, self-help loans, improvement of medical facilities, improvement of educational facilities, and other socially responsible activities.
A large portion of funding and resources for activities in each country is generated locally. These resources are mostly provided in terms of land, labor, and in-kind contributions from various segments of the society. The international funds and resources provide key elements that are lacking locally.
We realize that our task is not to solve the problems of the world. Our challenge is to create a few demonstrable models that, if successful, may inspire others to solve their own problems. In this manner we are akin to a laboratory where an antidote to a disease may be developed. We are not a factory where the antidote is manufactured for sale.
Our focus is on developing and providing the tools of empowerment to local community leaders who can create hope among others. Empowerment in our case means:
Awareness + Networking of resources, which lead to → Action