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Through this initiative the biblical proverb, to “beat swords into plowshares” takes on a quite literal meaning, replete with hope for future betterment.     

Ms. Blume, an astute businesswoman, started a long and interesting career in the charitable field when she established the UK-based Charities Advisory Trust (CAT) 25 years ago to provide impartial advice for charities on investment and trading. The initiative has blossomed into a many-branched endeavor of quite imaginative projects to not only raise money for charities, but also to train people for working in the non-profit sector.

One of her first initiatives was Card Aid, founded to produce Christmas cards for charities to sell to their supporters. Now CAT itself runs about 50 seasonal outlets for these cards, mostly in London supporting the work of 300 charities.

CAT also runs the Green Hotel in India, a model of sustainable and charitable tourism which uses its profits to support charitable and environmental projects in India. Its ‘Development from the Inside’ program trains students in international development and NGO work. Its ‘Medical Student Electives’ program exposes students from the West to a rural medical program in a developing country. ‘Mailout’ is a distribution company in London employing people with learning difficulties.

Additionally CAT runs a graduate internship program which has trained over 1000 people for work in the voluntary sector, and makes yearly donations through its grant program to a variety of causes such as tree planting, homelessness and peace and reconciliation. Blume herself has published several books on fundraising and charitable work.

Since being chosen to be included in the Good Gifts Catalogue, the ABCP has received funding for planting over 21,000 mpingo trees. See www.goodgifts.org/goodgifts/ for information on the catalog. The web addresses for the ABCP mpingo offerings may be accessed from the ABCP website, at www.blackwoodconservation/goodgifts.html. 

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Grouping of mpingo elephants executed by Muungano Makonde Carvers.

Muungano Makonde Carver’s Initiative Funded by Good Gifts

In 2004 we reported on a community mpingo planting project in Makuyuni, Tanzania, funded by a UN program for environmental remediation called COMPACT (Community Management of Protected Areas Conservation Project). The planting project was implemented by the Muungano Makonde Carvers, a group of highly skilled and creative artists who sell their work at an open-air market in Moshi.

The carvers negotiated with the village government of Makuyuni and secured 25 acres of land to establish a permanent site for mpingo trees. They used seedlings from the ABCP nursery, and Sebastian assisted them as technical advisor. They also implemented educational programs in schools of the area to raise awareness about mpingo’s uncertain future, and are planting other needed species of trees for environmental remediation in additional areas.

These are their accomplishments (from their brochure): “In 2 years, the project has raised awareness in primary schools located in Makuyuni ward and individuals about the potential extinction of mpingo trees. Kilema village has owned the project by formulating by-laws to protect mpingo tree species. Village guards have been posted at the project site to protect planted trees on a long-term basis. There has been reforestation of the half-mile strip of Kilimanjaro forest reserve along the border with Kilema ward. .... Over 35,000 tree seedlings were planted in Makuyuni ward. In addition, 10,000 indigenous trees were planted in the Kilimanjaro Forest Reserve at Kilema North ward. Trees planted included local hardwood varieties, namely ‘loliondo’, ‘camphor’ etc.”

Now with recent funding from the Good Gifts catalog, this project is being expanded. Makuyuni Village has designated additional acreage for use for replanting mpingo and the ABCP has contracted with the villagers to clear the land and plant it with a mixture of mpingo and fuelwood trees. Since mpingo takes so long to mature, the fuelwood trees will give immediate benefit to the villagers involved.

The ABCP has a present commitment from the Makuyuni villagers to closely manage the plot for the next 5 years. Additional land will become available as further funding is designated for mpingo conservation. 

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Because of an increasing difficulty in finding usable mpingo, carvers are utilizing other species. This Muungano artist works on a bas-relief of an African woman balancing a basket, carved from Jacaranda.

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ABCP Website maintained by James E. Harris, 2000.
Last revised 21 Apr 2008.