I spent a month volunteering with AIR after college and it changed my life. Nine years later, I took five of my own college students to spend a week with AIR, and--thoroughly exhausted from planting 600 trees on mountainsides, building 3 stoves, and playing a ferocious game of soccer with children at an AIR school--they didn't want to leave.When I asked one of my students why, they said: "The work we're doing, the place we're in, the people we're with... it's just incredible." And it is. Families invited us into their homes, and trusted us because AIR technicians had built deep relationships with them in their indigenous languages. They proudly showed us their nurseries and told of the tens of thousands of trees they had planted. Most moving to me, they talked about what this work--AIR and local villagers, side by side--is going to mean to the world they pass on to their grandchildren: a more productive, safer, and much more verdant and beautiful world.Time and money given to AIR are well spent. I've been twice now, give regularly, and can't wait to go back!
This is my third trip with AIR. This organization has really opened my eyes to the ability of a group of people committed to making a difference in Guatemala. Planting trees, building fuel efficient stoves, education in the schools, giving families a means of adding to their income and improving the lives of their children and future generations are some of their accomplishments.
As a volunteer I was able to share in this work as well as meet the families that form the co-ops. The time spent working with the families was a priceless experience, helping to create understanding and connections between very different worlds. Coming back years later and seeing how this organization has changed so many lives and seeing the trees growing tall is a thrill that keeps bringing me back.
What a fantastic organization. They have made such a difference to the people and county of Guatemala. Having planted millions of trees, built hundreds of stoves, educated so many children with classes, hands on conservation and many publications; they are turning around the reforestation and deadly mudslides that are so prevalent in this country. Volunteers are able to make a real difference in helping with tree planting and stove building while getting to know the families that are involved in the co-ops that grow the trees.
I expected to plant trees with AIR. What I didn't expect was for planting trees to be a link between the natural world and human experience. AIR is a program that is firstly about the families and communities enrolled; it is run, sustained, and expanded by these participants. For those lucky enough to be allowed into this well oiled program, even for a short time, you will learn something that will humble you and open you up to the beauty of the earth and the role of people in it. Thank you AIR!
Ha sido de mucha ayuda para mí ya que me apoya en mis estudios a través de una beca para que pueda seguir luchando en mi carrera, sé que es algo complicada pero con la ayuda de Dios y de la Asociación puedo seguir adelante. Que Dios los bendiga a todos y cada uno de los que hacen posible que muchos jóvenes como yo pueda seguir estudiando y luchar en la vida, así poco a poco poder graduarme. Y así como me apoyan a mi espero también poder ayudar a alguien más que tanto como yo lo necesitan, aparte me han ensañado muchos valores como el de la perseverancia, el respeto y a cuidar el medio ambiente, entre otros valores que me ayudan para lograr ser una persona íntegra. ¡Gracias por el apoyo!
I've been volunteering with AIR for almost a year doing social media and raising funds and what a reward it was to go to Guatemala this summer and actually see where all the hard work was going-IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT. I'm so proud of Anne and all her staff for being so organized, timely and most importantly PASSIONATE. There was nothing more majestic than sitting on a beautiful hillside planting trees, knowing that I was making a difference in the world. Selfishly, I think the trip meant more to me than what I did for the people of Guatemala. I walked away more restored and alive than I've felt in so many years.
For about 6 years now I've greatly admired AIR from afar. When I started volunteering as the marketing/ fundraising manager it did not disappoint. Anne Hallum's belief and passion in the work that AIR does in Guatemala is contagious. Her dedication to the people is incredible. Like any non-profit it takes a lot of perseverance to stay positive and strong to continue to raise funds. Not once have I seen her waver- always believing that their needs (Guatemalans) are so much greater. I think that AIR does a very good job in being transparent in what they do and where the donations go. 94% of the funds truly go to the field-I can honestly say that AIR's overhead budget is nonexistent. Every dollar is so carefully spent, making sure that it stretches a long way and for the most dire need/ situation. I've always believed people should be helped before the environment. However, AIR showed me that by planting trees, teaching sustainable farming and building stoves -we are helping the people directly. When you take care of the environment you directly have an impact on everything else. It doesn't have to be people or environment. I love that.
I recently accompanied a group to Guatemala where we worked with AIR Guatemala in planting trees and building stoves. I cannot believe how organized our schedule was and yet there was flexibility to adjust to unforeseen situations.
The highlight was seeing the eyes of the woman for whom we built a stove. Her tears brought tears to my eyes; she was so happy, proud, and appreciative. But the focus of our mission trip was to plant trees, and I relished doing this as a contribution to the environment of Guatemala and the world. We visited a tree nursery and saw how people were growing the trees we were planting. We saw the beautiful countryside as we drove into the mountains to plant trees, We hiked to the locations are proceeded to plant trees that would increase forest cover and provide a better environment.
Meanwhile, in the evenings, I was able to reflect on what I was accomplishing, and think about what it meant to my life. What a wonderful experience.
This year was the second trip with AIR that our church group had taken. As with the first trip everything had been arranged for our stay and our work. The staff of AIR in Guatemala is tops. They work with the locals and we volunteers to make the trip worthwhile. Their plan of 5 years working with villages makes it certain we do more than plant and run. We found that attitudes of locals has changed from trees being a problem to being an asset. In fact some have even set up businesses to sell trees to others. We were able to see some of the trees we had planted on our previous trip and it really gave meaning to our current work. The stoves we built for the families were received happily and we enjoyed their smiles and the knowledge that we had helped improve their health. On this trip we also visited a school and found that AIR is making an impact on education by teaching about the benefits of trees on the environment and health. AIR's influence has touched the lives of many in Gutemala and in the US.
I have been on volunteer trip with AIR three times and am always impressed by Anne and her staff. Their enthusiasm for the work they do is contagious. They help the environment by planting trees to prevent erosion, start tree nurseries so communities feel a connection to the environment, they build stoves that are more fuel efficient and help families have less lung problems, and promote environmental education at community schools. AIR takes care of the whole communities throughout Guatemala. Not only is AIR doing great work, it has been doing it for an impressive 20 years!
I have volunteered with AIR four times over the past several years. AIR does amazing work that benefits the communities directly in both short and long term. AIR has strong relationships with over 100 communities in Guatemala. The organization is extremely well run.
They say "a picture is worth a thousand words", and these pictures are proof. They are all trees planted by AIR, and they are 4, 8, and 12 years old. It demonstrates how barren mountainsides, prone to mudslides during the rainy season, can be restored to lush, beautiful forests. AIR technicos work with Mayan farmers for 5 years teaching the principles behind reforestation, and enlisting them as partners in improving life for themselves and their community. Some farmers have started their own tree nurseries which becomes a small business for them as they sell seedlings to their neighbors. Another aspect of AIR is stove building. The cook stoves are wood burning as is the Mayan tradition. The AIR designed stove uses far less wood than their traditional way of cooking, and they are vented to prevent inhalation of smoke, thus improving health. The lady of the house is consulted about the height and location of the stove, and later it will be a gathering place for the family.
AIR has a curriculum in many schools that teaches agro forestry and sustainable farming. They offer scholarships to students to ensure that the principles can be carried on into the future.
I have been privileged to volunteer on three AIR mission trips, and will continue to support this wonderful organization.
I have volunteered with AIR twice, and can tell you it is a very rewarding and uplifting experience. Working with the Mayan farmers to improve their lives by planting trees and building stoves was a joy. The teaching aspect of AIR is unique in that it allows these Mayan farmers to have an active part in their own futures in a way that can be sustained over time. The trees prevent devastating mudslides, provide wind barriers to prevent erosion of topsoil, fertilize the ground, and provide seedlings that can be used as a source of income when sold to other community farmers. The stoves are built with a flue to carry away the smoke. That smoke causes major respiratory issues over time when cooking by the old method, over an open fire. The woman of the household is consulted as to the size and height of the stove, then the two day building process begins. It is such a blessing to know that generations will be gathering around the stove and benefiting from it.