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Forestry For Life


IMG_0835This project started as an agro-forestry project among the Gumuz. The Gumuz were traditional hunters and gatherers with an abundance of harmful cultural practices including a history of violence. The project has had success beyond what could have been imagined. There was great resistance initially in trying to change the values of a people that have had the same values for thousands of years. They were destroying the environment by cutting trees and selling for charcoal. They were killing every living thing (including each other) within 100 kilometres  in their hunting and there was a chronic shortage of food, high mortality rate and superstitions that kept them living in constant fear.

The project started with one model farmer brave enough to buck the trend as well as distribution of many trees. When people saw the success of the one model farmer, the value of the trees and the difference it was making – many more were added. Soon the whole group saw the value in trees and 8 years later there are now close to two million trees, thousands of fruit trees, model farmers on their way to wealth, and miraculous change in the environment. Stream beds that were dry have come back to life. Hillsides that were bare now are lush jungles. The health and prosperity of the group has had a miraculous turn around.

The original project has had such a success that it is now multiplying itself into new areas and expanding its original vision to include integrated development with water, health, education, and expanding on income generating activities. One of the new areas is North Shoa a strategic area that is the convergence of 4 tribes/regions in Ethiopia (Amhara, Oromo, Afar, and Arbgoba).

The Forestry Group is looking for volunteers to join the team. Please join them in this exciting venture.

Lead Members

Grant and Dot Adair

Dave Rupke

This project in North Shoa is off to a great start. It has already accomplished in its first year what it took 4 years to accomplish among the Gumuz. Watch this video for an update.



Over 20 model farmers have been trained with 10 of them running their own nursery sites. A model farmer can take the same amount of land that he used for sorghum and where he was only earning $500 a year and increase his income 30 to 40 times that amount by planting fruit trees, incorporating grafting techniques, and using companion planting for other produce.


A demonstration training centre has been set up for training and local distribution.

The project has also supported over 400 of the poorest children in surrounding schools with school supplies and uniforms.



The project has also brought water to over two thousand households in surrounding villages through piped water from the mountain via gravity feed.



The project is also planning on implementing a Village Savings and Loan program that will target much of the Northeast of Ethiopia in all the rural towns and villages.




The project also has a cattle project to provide income for operations and eventually provide funding for the future of the project.

The Lead Members for the North Shoa Forestry For Life Project are members of “The Northern Alliance”. The Northern Alliance is composed of 3 different projects and 7 lead members to reach much of Northern Ethiopia. The combined strategy is focusing on setting up Village Savings and Loan Programs throughout the Northeast and Northwest of Ethiopia.

Northern Alliance

Grant and Dot Adair

Dave Rupke

Marten Nieuwhof, Wendy and Ralph Ens

Lead Member for the New Hope Microloans in Ethiopia Campaign

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