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USA/Africa: More than Just a Mvule Tree
May 7, 2007 (070507)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
"Mrs. Mead's 4th grade class at Pecan Creek Elementary in Denton,
Texas is writing, publishing and selling a book titled "More Than
Just A Mvule Tree" for $5 per copy. All monies will be used to
purchase Mvule trees to be planted in Uganda and maintained by
Ugandan children to fund education thru the Kibo
This press release received by AfricaFocus from the Pecan Creek
Elementary School last week continues: "We are having our book
release event on Friday, May 11th in the Pecan Creek Elementary
Cafeteria from 2:00-2:30 p.m. The teacher to contact is Natalie
Mead (940)369-4439 or firstname.lastname@example.org - she has all of
the information about this event & book project."
This elementary school initiative is linked to one of the projects
supported by the Kibo Group, a group of friends who have joined to
provide small grant support to projects in East Africa relying on
African creativity, whether low-tech, high-tech, or somewhere in
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from Mrs. Mead's Fourth
Grade web page, and from the Kibo Group's description of the Mvule
project and of their own mission. For more details, and to learn
how to buy the book, sponsor a tree, suggest a project, or become
a Kibo Group partner or volunteer, visit
http://www.dentonisd.org/nmead and http://www.kibogroup.org
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
Welcome to Mrs. Mead's Fourth Grade Page
Writing is an important part of the fourth grade curriculum. We
have put our writing skills to good use by writing, illustrating
and publishing a book;
Our book project has given us the opportunity to apply our science
conservation skills. Did you know that this project will replenish
the threatened Mvule Tree in the villages of Uganda as it
simultaneously provides school tuition for the African children
who help plant and maintain the trees. All proceeds from our book
sales will go directly towards the purchase of Mvule trees!
We even got to use our math skills for our Mvule Tree project.
Thanks to a generous donation of service by Eagle Press Printing in
Denton and our independent publisher, Kippi Halfin, $3.40 of every
$5 book will go towards the purchase of Mvule Trees! We sure hope
we get to buy enough trees for at least one village. That's 100
trees x $45 per tree=$4,500.
To keep things simple we calculated the profit margin for the sell
of 100 books.
100 books x $5= $500
minus production costs of $1.60 per book x $100 books = $160
$500-$160= $340 profit
1 Mvule Tree @$45; $340 divided by $45= about 7.5 trees.
We made a T table and figured we would need to sell about:
1,400 books would purchase 100trees= 100%
700 books would purchase 52 trees =50%
350 would take care of 26 trees =25%
Keep track of our progress on our blog.
To purchase your copy of
More than Just a Mvule Tree
contact Natalie Mead email@example.com
The Mvule Project
Kibo Group International
muh VOO lee...
It's just fun to say
Mvule: Hardwood(Iroko) Chlorophora excelsa:
Sapwood clearly defined, yellow white of 25-100mm width depending
on age of tree.
The heartwood is light yellow, rich brown or greenish brown,
darkening on exposure. The texture is medium to coarse, grain
typically interlocked, figure mottled. Wood is slightly greasy with
no odour. This West African hardwood has an unusually durable,
decay- resistant heartwood that is sometimes substituted for Teak.
Iroko is sometimes called African Teak or Nigerian Teak (although
not related to the Teak family).
The Mvule in Busoga
Legend has it that the first Europeans interested in felling timber
in Uganda visited Soga n the 1880's. They came with their friends
from Buganda and when they saw the enormous Mvule tree that was so
plentiful in the "Bazungu" immediately recognized its potential for
providing superb hardwood for construction and carpentry. They
asked the People if they might agree for a few of them to be cut
down and the Soga, seeing no worth in the trees said, "Jamire Jene"
or "They grew by themselves." Soon afterward a lucrative trade in
timber began in Soga with crafty businessmen from Buganda buying
trees for a pittance. To this day the phrase "Jamire Jene" is a
polite nickname for the Soga.
The Giving Tree
The Soga caught on soon enough and realized the value of their
great trees with timber mills in many towns in supplying enough
wood for homes and tables across Uganda. The large trunks that grew
nearly 50 feet before sprouting the first branch were indeed some
the world's finest timber trees. Early trees produced boards six
feet in width! They were harvested continually and served Uganda
well. The Mvule has given much, and now the time has come to give
the Mvule to a new generation.
Now they won't grow by themselves
More than 100 years later the Mvule tree is severely threatened.
Despite valiant efforts by forestry officials for decades,the Mvule
is quickly disappearing as younger and younger trees fall to
provide wood for furniture, building and charcoal. There is little
that can be done to replace the slow-growing Mvule because Mvule
trees do not grow in forests, but rather haphazardly across Soga.
Efforts to grow them in nurseries are not successful because of
blight. The Mvule is a resiliant tree once it reaches a certain
age, but before that age it is easily threatened. Every systematic
effort to replant Mvules has failed over the last 30 years. So why
will we succeed? Read ahead and you'll see why we are different and
how we will pull it off.
We're as green as the next guy, but the thing about the Mvule
Project that really makes us happy is not the trees...it's the
kids. There is a famous Soga proverb that says, "Emiti emito
n'ekibira." Literally, in English, that's "the young trees are the
We pay people to plant mvule trees...or should we say, we pay kids?
No, we're not talking about child labor; for each mvule tree
planted by a Ugandan village, we contribute to their nursery
school. For each mvule tree that continues to live month after
month, we contribute again and again. You'll learn how this works
in a minute...
So, as you contribute to the long-term health of a valuable Ugandan
resource through the Mvule Project, you're also contributing to the
long term health of Uganda's most valuable resource: its children.
The small trees are the forest!
One day, with your help, Uganda's children of today will wake up as
adults with better surroundings, better education, and with
children who will sit in the shade of mvule trees planted by your
generation. We think that's worth doing.
Here's how it works:
1.. Send us yer dough.
$45 plants a Mvule tree on behalf of that person in your life who
already has everything. (That's actually cheap for a "Christmas"
tree these days, and ours are actually alive and growing...not cut
2. We send you a groovy Holiday Card.
Enclosed in that card are two other groovy things:
3. A tree is born.
- A groovy ornament-ish thing that can be hung on a tree or on a
rear-view mirror. On that ornament will be your tree registration
- A groovy sheet with a more detailed Mvule Project description,
and instructions on how to locate your tree. online. 3.
A village, with the help of a Mvule Project engineer plants a tree
and marks it with a Global Positioning System (GPS) for further
monitoring. We are allowing up to 100 trees per village so we'll
need the GPS to keep track of them.
4. A tree is monitored
Periodically for a year (every month at first) we will return to
the trees to monitor their status. We are pretty sharp, and we can
tell if a tree is live or dead, healthy or sick. Every live tree
garners a payment...with each payment increasing, sometimes
doubling, from the last one. You get the picture... the motivation
to keep these trees alive is big, big, big.
5. A tree grows in Uganda
It is said that if a mvule tree can make
it through the harsh first year, it's good to grow. You can now
take pride in your mvule tree. At the end of a year, 100 living
trees will mean more than $1000 for a village and their school
project. That's good money for a village and that's easy management
6. A kid grows in Uganda
Because of the economic seeds you've planted, Ugandan children will
grow stronger physically, spiritually, and academically. And one
day, their children will sit in the shade of your mvule tree.
How We Began
In 1998, 15 friends gathered to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. The climb
had been several years in the making as we arranged to meet in
Moshi, Tanzania for a five-day climb to the roof of Africa. Half of
us already lived in East Africa, where we were working as
development workers and missionaries in Uganda. The others flew in
from various locations in the US.
After reaching the glaciers of Kibo peak, the 30-mile hike back
down the mountain provided us with a panoramic view of the
Tanzanian countryside. As we walked and talked, we could see people
far in the valleys below going about their everyday lives. Talks
with our sandal-clad porters reminded us that the money we
collectively spent climbing the mountain (at the time a climbing
permit was $300) would have been a small fortune not only to the
average Tanzanian, but to the average Tanzanian village!
Before we reached base camp, the concept of the Kibo Group was
born. Those of us who had been blessed to reach Africa's highest
point would contribute annually to an informal development fund
that might empower African communities to climb to higher points.
There were no plans for any formalities, just a handshake agreement
between a few to contribute to an account that would help fund
creative development initiatives in African communities. There
would be no overhead, no salaries, no office, no fund raisers. Time
would tell if we were caught up in the excitement and emotion of
the climb or if we would stick with it. Five years later, we have
formalized our organization into a fully incorporated US 501c3. We
have maintained our goal of no overhead thanks to many hours
volunteered by some of those who climbed that day.
You are within the "About Us" section of our website, but we want
to make it clear that it's not about us. ("It" being the overall
big picture.) It is about the God-given creativity found in human
beings. We believe that creativity truly is God-given so we have no
interest in pursuing creative ideas without pursuing God.
Whenever people pursue "development" (economic gain, educational
improvement, health-care improvement, etc) without pursuing God
they are pursuing good things -- they are pursuing God's gifts to
humanity. We don't insist that people pursue God rather than His
gifts, we work with anyone and everyone, but we operate under the
belief that pursuing the giver is more useful and primary than
pursuing the gifts.
When thinking about development, areas such as economics and social
anthropology have long been scrutinized and subdivided into areas
of great minutia, yet spiritual issues are often set aside as
subjective, divisive and irrelevant to development studies. It is
ironic that many of the world's experts in development are
Westerners who think and speak little of faith, yet they are trying
to impact a third-world environment where faith in a higher power
is one of the few things that nearly everyone agrees on.
Kibo is driven by five principles or goals:
- We will facilitate creative development ideas in East Africa
- We will be aware of our relevance and cease to exist if need be
- We will have very little organizational superstructure
- We will have strong relationships with our partners
- We are driven and inspired by our faith, (but open to working
The Kibo Group is now in its 5th year. As we grow and reach
farther, our commitment to spend an absolute minimum on operations
remains firm. We are growing because our African partners (not us)
continue to impress the world with their ingenuity and
entrepreneurship. As long as demands for our services, advice and
partnership are driven by the stories circulated of the success of
our partners, we are thrilled to fill our role as facilitators. As
stated in our goals, we are looking forward to a time when we can
cease to exist because Africans find no need for our services.
Work With Us
One of the first things tourists notice when visiting Africa is the
amazing creativity of its people. Creative displays aren't limited
only to artists and musicians. Creativity is on display in everyday
life as old tin cans are turned into oil burning lamps, discarded
tires are refitted into the world's toughest footwear, tire rims
are becoming charcoal stoves. Resources are few, nothing is wasted,
and resilience and resourcefulness are evident everywhere as people
craft something out of nothing over and over again.
The Kibo Group is looking for partners with great ideas for making
their communities better: ideas about education, about healthcare,
about technology, about business -- anything that can help a
community on its way to a higher point. The ideas we like best are
usually simple, local, sustainable and well thought out. We also
like ideas that are brand new, risky, socially aware and
entrepreneurial. We do not issue large grants, we closely follow
our recipients and seek to develop a long term relationship with
We don't have the projects, we don't have the agenda, but rather a
desire to partner with creative young (and old) Africans who know
their communities, know their needs and have creative solutions
they'd like to try. We know they are out there. Some are our close
friends, some we meet on the web. We have partnered with them in
small ways in the past and are looking forward to increased ability
to pursue such relationships with our newly acquired non-profit
Intentions can be great; it's when they make the transition into
interventions that problems often arise. Interventions by
well-intentioned individuals and groups such as ours have a long
history in Africa...and it has not always been a positive history.
Accordingly, Kibo forges each partnership with certain limitations
in mind. While proposed projects should be simple, local,
sustainable and well thought out, that does not necessarily mean
they will be simple, low tech and boring. Development is becoming
increasingly difficult to define in East Africa as Ugandans,
Tanzanians and Kenyans recreate and redefine daily what it means to
be indigenous in the face of increasing interactions with Western
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