Planting trees and building classrooms in Kenya


Planting trees and building classrooms in Kenya

The Word Forest Organisation is a Dorset based charity that plants trees, builds classrooms and facilitates environmental education, in impoverished communities in Kenya.


My husband Simon and I have been philanthropists there, reforesting and building schools since 2012. Over the years, we’ve seen so many positive changes occurring within our communities, for example, the commodities from the trees now are enabling people to lift themselves out of abject poverty and as a result, fewer youngsters are heading into child prostitution. These folks really are living on the front line of climate change.


We became a charity in April 2017 to scale everything up, getting urgently needed trees in the ground and supporting the educational and human needs of the people who nurture the forests. Our projects are extremely well managed – we take the GPS coordinates of our trees and guarantee that if they die for any reason, we’ll replace them. This gives our valued benefactors security in the knowledge that environmental investments with us are safe and they’ll have created a legacy forest.


If you’re curious about why we choose Kenya, our Trustee, Ru Hartwell, is a global forestry expert who has planted hundreds of thousands of trees all over the planet. He knows all trees are amazing but he had a scientific epiphany a decade ago, realising that forests planted in the tropics grow at an exponential rate and are therefore incredibly efficient at removing CO2 from the atmosphere. The deforested zones of Coast Province, Kenya, became Ru’s primary focus and as the country has far less than 10% canopy cover, we’ve got an awful lot of ground to cover.


We primarily plant around the schools we build. Our solid stone classrooms enable young guardians of the forest to learn about the environmental impacts their efforts are having across the globe. Biodiversity is beginning to flourish, students are learning about creatures who are returning to the area for the first time in years and there are safe habitats for wildlife and humans too.


We have a target to re-build 100 primary schools here, replacing rickety, mud huts with at least three large, stone constructed classrooms. With your gracious promises of help via legacy donations, we’ll be able to make our long term plans, a reality. The classrooms are approximately £10,000 to build and for each one, we plant 4,000 trees around the school compound, bringing welcome shade and protection from the harsh elements.


It’s an ambitious project I know, but we’re geared up and ready and where there’s a will, there’s a way!


Thank you for considering supporting us and please get in touch if you’d like any more information to help you make your decision.


Asante sana!


Tracey West FRSA
CEO and Fundraiser
The Word Forest Organisation


NB: The aptly named charity was born from the philanthropic achievements of the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize, the only writing contest in the world to plant a tree for every entry in Kenya. It also paid for building materials for classrooms too, creating new forests and schools, funded from creative writing: hence, The Word Forest.


Recent News: In March 2018, Tracey founded the women’s empowerment group, Mothers of the Forest, to share best practice for tending to the trees, and to alleviate the problems caused by social isolation, depression and general hardship. The group are about to embark on a sewing project that will equip all the women in the tree planting community with washable sanitary pads, improving their mental and physical health and well being too.




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