AIR Visitors Make Memories over 3 States
For 21 days in October, AIR Technicians from Guatemala, Don Miguel Lopez and Luis Iquique Socoy, and AIR President Anne Hallum visited ten cities in three states and gave sixteen presentations, including forestry classes at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN.
They were met with the extraordinary hospitality and generosity of many friends of AIR in Georgia, central Florida and Tennessee. Robert and Donna McIntosh, for instance, hosted a party for Peace Corps alumni with Don Miguel and Luis as the guests of honor. Patrick McMaster of Athens, Georgia, feted a gourmet meal for the Guatemala travelers and guests in his DePalmas Italian restaurant and pilot Don Stansberry gave Don Miguel and Luis a ride in a small airplane to see the mountains of east Tennessee in full autumn colors. It doesn’t get much better than that!
The visit also addressed the very serious side of AIR’s work to combat rural hunger and deforestation in Guatemala. In 2014, AIR technicians are training 1,348 farm families and students in 12 schools in sustainable farming, and together they will plant over 355,000 trees this year alone!
One success story is of a farmer in Chucalibal whose family planted thousands of trees from the AIR tree nursery on their own land, as they practiced sustainable farming. Once their own land was planted, they realized that their neighbors needed to plant tree seedlings as well, so they turned their tree nursery into a micro-business (photo above) selling the little trees at a modest price. Now, even more trees are being planted on the mountain slopes and the family has a new source of income. This is exactly the kind of project AIR promotes: transformative change that grows even after AIR technicians move on to other areas.
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