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'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!
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.
This was my second trip with AIR to Guatemala and it is an amazing organization. It's more than just planting trees and building stoves. AIR takes a holistic approach to conservation. Their technicians work with farmers to develop a sustainable blueprint for maximizing their crops and conserving soil. The wood stoves cut firewood use in half, while creating a healthier indoor environment for families free from smoke and fumes. Their school curriculum teaches the next generation about the importance of trees and the environment. I wholeheartedly recommend volunteering with AIR to help others create a better life for themselves and their families.
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.
Had a great time with AIR, planning 1,832 trees in 4 days. They also build stoves and educate in the schools on enivornmental stewardship. They are tackling the issues of deforestation on multiple fronts really making a difference in the communities.
It was a fun, productive, and heart-warming volunteer trip with AIR Guatemala. I was amazed by the beauty of the country, the culture, and the people we met. It's so hard to totally explain the depth and success of this non-profit. The founder, Anne, is very humble and passionate about her work, and involved the entire time we were there. Thanks to Anne, her staff and all the experienced volunteers that welcomed me on my first trip!
Air Guatemala knocks it out of the park yet again. What an amazing organization AIR is!!! The hard work and dedication of the staff in Guatemala are remarkable.
I returned for my sixth trip to Guatemala with AIR this past June. Every time I return I am impressed anew with the efficiency and devotion of the Guatemalan staff. The results this group of people achieve are astounding given the challenges they face. I will be returning again and again.