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
Mission: AIR was established in 1992 with the mission of implementing environmental education programs and Sustainable Farming methods with low-income rural families in Central America, in order to reduce hunger and malnutrition, while preventing erosion and deadly mudslides.
Results: Over 3,000 farm families have received training; 860 custom-built, efficient stoves have been constructed to prevent lung disease and conserve precious wood; and over 5 million trees have been planted by hand! In addition, over two dozen AIRES tree nurseries have become micro-businesses enabling farmers to add to family incomes while planting even more trees.
Target demographics: the rural families, and the Earth
Direct beneficiaries per year: Groups in 46 communities & rural schools!
Geographic areas served: Central Guatemala
Tree Nurseries - After twenty years, AIR has approximately 300 nurseries in over 130 villages and schools in Guatemala. The population served by these nurseries are the resident families who participate in the agro-forestry training by AIR technicians and who manage the tree nurseries and own the tree seedlings produced. AIR provides all seeds; materials and training. AIR also provides school curriculum, scholarships, and programs in rural schools. Finally, AIR constructs fuel-efficient stoves to protect lung health and cut the use of firewood in half, conserving precious trees!
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!