Unilever gets to the grassroots

2010-09-24 00:00

INDIGENOUS Trees for Life — or “tree-preneurs” — recently spent a weekend in the Drakensberg with Unilever staff and learnt about nature, each other and life while having fun.

Unilever South Africa has been a funding partner of The Wildlands Conservation Trust for more than 10 years.

Since the early years, regular volunteer weekends have taken place with Unilever staff members spending time with Wildlands staff and the communities involved in their programmes.

This volunteer weekend was different in that some 30 tree-preneurs between the ages of 13 and 18 took part. Tree-preneurs are adults or children from needy township and rural communities who are taught to grow indigenous trees from seed and care for them until they grow to a certain height.

The trees are then traded back to Wildlands for goods such as food, clothes and school and university fees and the trees are then planted back into the community or planted out into forest restoration projects.

The group stayed overnight at Entabeni education centre near Rosetta.

The next morning, they worked in groups clearing alien invasive plants together.

Nick Shaw, the director at Entabeni, then led an interpretive tour to explain the importance of conserving the Wattled, Blue and Crowned Cranes.

The group went on to Royal Natal National Park where they hiked and camped, spending time in nature and learning about leadership, life skills and issues affecting the environment.

By combining the two groups, Unilever Volunteers had the opportunity to share life skills with the tree-preneurs who were all girls aged from 13 to 18.

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