Defenders of Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the Africa's most recognized wonders. The highest peak on the continent attracts hikers and backpackers from around the world. For the people of Northeastern Tanzania, however, the mountain is more than just a tourist hotspot. It's also a matter of survival.
As climate change has begun to cause the mountain's snowcap to melt, the farmers below face the possibility of floods washing out the nutrients from their soil, resulting in food shortages. If the loss of snow continues even further, then the water sources that would otherwise nourish their crops would begin to dry.
The farmers who live below Mount Kilimanjaro are often among the world's poorest. They may be vulnerable, but they aren't helpless.
As a farmer on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, she suffered the effects of the natural environment’s turn for the worse. As the mountain’s snowcap grew smaller and provided less water to the land below, the soil grew less fertile. She had to work even harder for fewer results.
The urgency of Emma’s work became even more pronounced as tragedy struck her family. Her husband passed away, leaving Emma as a widow left to provide for her three children.
When Julius returned to the farm, he knew without question that it was exactly what he was supposed to be doing. Julius began to realize that without him, there would be no one to look after the family farm and it would simply fade away.
“My parents grew old,” he recounted, “and I needed to come back and take care of them.”
“I knew I was the lastborn, so if I left, it would just get degraded. There would be no one to take care of it. It’s better for me to come back to take care of it.”
When our land cruiser drove into the Tanzanian village of Moshi-Marungi, I was deeply engrossed in a conversation with another visitor on our vision trip, but I had to stop mid-sentence.
Cheers, yodels, and songs immediately engulfed both sides of our vehicle. We turned onto a small pathway shaded by palms. We were bordered by smiling and cheer- ing farmers, mostly women, rushing out to greet us. As we drove further up the path, they fell into a parade-like formation that followed us, erupting in songs that seemed to get louder and louder. The volume of the celebration only increased once we opened our doors to get out.