My name is Van Hellen Ruwende. I grew up in Rusape, Tsanzaguru,a developing location located on the east side of Rusape dam along Hwedza road. Tsanzaguru being a developing township I grew up witnessing trees acting as a crucial tool for brick making. Trees were also a major source of firewood since electricity was still a prevailing challenge back in the day. I was a professional firewood fetcher/ collector in my younger. It was the only way I could get my mother to praise me by my totem as a way of showing appreciation of a job well done. It was everything I ever wanted as a kid.
I remember very well waking up as early as 5 am to go fetch firewood so that by 7am we could be back and getting ready for school. We did this with passion, little did we know we were destroying the Earths carbon sinks and at the same time speeding up the rate of global warming.
Then, I was completely oblivious to the effects of deforestation and I always imagined reforestation as a natural processes which could take only close to a year to be complete. As I proceeded to secondary school I started to gradually learn the importance of trees. As the picture grew clearer, so did my passion to preserve and repair natural forests. I started to venture more into environmental studies and as a way of portraying interest I decided to pursue a degree in Natural Resources management at Bindura University of Science Education. I am currently an attaché at attachment at Environmental Buddies Zimbabwe Trust where the greater part of our activities include restoration of natural forests. Upon graduating from BUSE I plan to carry the tree planting spirit in me back to Tsanzaguru and restore the lost forests. I will also educate and enlighten others so that people become aware of the dangers that come with deforestation.
*If you were a tree what tree would you be and why*
If I were a tree I’d be a cactus. No leaves like other trees but still magically beautiful in its own unique way. Always green to represent liveliness. A cactus tree is brave, it create its own adaptive immune to withstand drought. For instance, it has thick cuticles to store water, thorns instead of leaves to lessen transpiration and avoid water loss. I would have been a cactus also because it is not carelessly generous. It produces fruits with itchy particles to avoid overconsumption of its fruits. Lastly I’d have been a cactus because it doesn’t depend on others for survival, it creates its own adaptation features to withstand drought. It is an independent unique species.