On my first visit to Trees for Life, I was extremely impressed with those who worked there and with the volunteers. After hearing from Mr. Mathur, I was telling him that I thought he was doing a wonderful work on behalf of those in very needy circumstances. He said that for him, the work made him feel as though he was privileged to "dance with the angels" each day. In 2009, my husband & I were involved in a children's book drive in as many areas of Kansas as we could, to collect books to build a library in Ethopia. The person in Ethopia who made this request to Trees for Life,now provides a cart to regularly take more books to the rural areas. We saw a video of the cart entering a small village & the sides of the road were lined with children waiting to see that months delivery. Mr. Mathur was able to talk a large grocery chain into having boxes where people could drop the books when they did their grocery shopping. I find the organization to be very caring; the volunteers that work reqularly there are very pleased with the outcomes of their efforts.
I volunteered as the community volunteer coordinator. I started at a very difficult time in my life, and the work, the staff and other volunteers showed me that there is a great group of people and good work needing to be done. Those years were some of themost fu, working with volunteers doing mailings, sending out trees, and oh so much more. Would love to do t again! Only left because we moved away.
This is an organization about which there are not enough superlatives. Balbir, the founder and guiding light, is someone about whom enough superlatives cannot be articulated. He is surrounding by a loving and caring "family" of similar persuasion, and the net result is an organization that makes phenomenally effective use of a very, very low level of funding. There is so much selfless giving going out of that organization, and they all genuinely receive abundant energy back from those who they serve. Balbir has started a movement (as he is fond of calling "Trees for Life"), and that movement must not be allowed to wither on the vine. One of the big recent disappointments is the fact that a few years ago, I nominated Balbir Mathur for a "Man of Peace / Person of Peace" award, and he was not given it. This was a rather sizable monetary award that Peace Cereal (my favorite breakfast cereal) was making annually, but appears to have since discontinued. In my capacity serving for 4 years as the inaugural Editor-in-Chief of the Trees for Life Journal, I witnessed time and again the love and compassion emanating from Trees for Life. If there had been a way that I could have served with them on a full-time basis, I would love to have done that. Perhaps when I approach retirement they will have a place for me and hope to return to their embrace. Until then, I continue with my public health research which may ultimately make me a more useful contributor to the Trees for Life movement.
I've had a wonderful experience with Trees for Life. I first found TFL through their website. The people are great; it's easy to feel connected at TFL on so many levels. It's also a very exciting place to volunteer because everyone is so enthusiastic about all the projects going on, from the Books for Life bookdrive to the educational lessons being developed for low-income countries. The teamwork is incredible. I appreciate TFL giving me the opportunity to apply skills I have just learned in college. I am able to develop my strengths as well as work on life skills with a very compassionate and dedicated group. TFL is definitely an inspiring place to be. For me, my position at TFL is my ideal job in life. As TFL is empowering people in other countries in many ways, it also has empowered me with job skills, life skills, and a meaningful purpose in life.
I first learned about Trees for Life when we first moved to Kansas around 1982. It was still in its inception at the time. My family followed it with great interest, particulary because it focuses on world hunger and education which are passions of ours. As we learned to know the organization more intimately, Trees for Life became not just another non-profit for us. I began to see how it was a miracle in progress. A number of years later our son decided to volunteer for a while for Trees for Life. He lived on the premesis and loved working there so much that he stayed with the organization for 1 1/2 years before continuing on to graduate school. His time with Trees for Life changed his outlook on life, and he still does short-term volunteer work at Trees for Life when he comes home to Kansas. My personal experiece with Trees for Life came after I retired when I began volunteering once a week with the organization. My tasks focused around working with the 100,000 books for Liberia drive in 2008-2009. The country's minister of education had approached Trees for Life's Books for Life program and asked if we could help them. Local school districts donated thousands of used textbooks and library books for the Liberian children. My job was to sort through the books and make decisions regarding appropriateness and condition. It was an exciting adventure. Many groups from Wichita came to help, and it became a community effort. Books lined the halls and filled the rooms ... a book lover's dream come true. Books were everywhere! My most startling moment came several months later when I took time off to go on a trip with my husband's students. Two weeks later when I returned, to my surprise, an the books were finished - sorted, packed, and even sent! Trees for Life had made an all out effort to pull in groups of volunteers to sort the remaining books and get them on their way to Liberia. It is a gratifying feeling to know that school books that otherwise would have been discarded are today being used to educate an entire country of children who otherwise had little hope for a future. Trees for Life has an amazing capacity that enables miracles to happen.
Trees for Life is one of the few non-profits with a long-term outlook, one that they intend to last longer than they will themselves. In India, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Liberia, etc., they go only where invited, teach people to organize and help themselves, then leave officially, but maintain contact as friends. Their focus is on education, nutrition, health, environment, and water, but most of all, people.