Author Archive

The Trees for Life Culture

August 23, 2011

Trees for Life is a movement of people who are

striving to move from the Victim mentality

to the practice of Responsibility.


Victim mentality

If things are going wrong, or badly,

Or not to my liking, then someone is

to blame. It is necessary to identify

the person(s) of why things are not as I

think they should be. Blame must be

determined and accepted by the

wrongdoer, and things must be made

right. I am justified in being

emotionally upset. Neither growth

nor learning result from the bad

things that happen to me.


I completely and wholly accept that

Everything that has ever happened to

me, that is presently happening to me,

and that will happen to me in the

future provided me with opportunities

for learning and growth; and that no

one else can be rightly blamed for

ANY negativity, hurts, or abuses

Which my emotional nature

experiences. I shall seek no exceptions

To this belief, even when the apparent

Cause is not of my making.

-Adapted from the Totally Responsible Person, Human Service Alliance

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The Mango Seller

June 18, 2011

The Mango Seller – as told by Balbir Mathur, Trees for Life

In the fall of 1982 I was invited to an Africa-America conference hosted by the government of Zimbabwe.

The top echelon of African ambassadors and politicians were at the conference, along with their entourage. The American delegation included members of the state department, high-level politicians and businessmen.

This was my first trip to Africa. When I landed in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, it represented all of Africa to me. I was eager to explore “Africa,” so I hired a taxi and requested a tour of the city.

“What would you like to see?” the driver inquired.

“Show me everything,” I said.

The driver took me to the best parts of the city, where the rich and powerful lived. After an hour or so, I asked him to show me where the poor lived. He turned around in disbelief and said that was not a good idea. I could understand his reasoning. Racial tensions in Zimbabwe were very high, and this was not a good time for a foreigner to be cruising around all by himself. But I persisted.

The slum was not far away. It was obvious the taxi driver was not going to take me inside the slum, but I was grateful that I could at least view it from the outskirts. Small shacks with tin or thatched roofs—symbol of poverty and slums throughout the world—were scattered all around. This was Sunday afternoon, and people were sitting in groups under shady trees or leisurely walking about.

The scene was a stark contrast to the rich areas I had just visited. There I had seen large, impressive British bungalows with manicured lawns and luxury cars in the driveways. There had been practically no people on the streets.

Here, in the midst of poverty, there were people outside mingling with one another.

As we drove along a bumpy dirt road, I saw a woman selling mangoes. I expressed a desire to stop and buy some of this fruit. Again, the taxi driver told me it was not a good idea. He even offered to deliver mangoes to my hotel. But again I persisted.

Reluctantly, he parked on the side of the road. I got out and walked across a patch of bare earth to the mango seller, about ten yards away. Dressed in traditional clothing, she sat on the ground beneath a tree, with a couple dozen mangoes scattered in front of her—a common sight in most developing countries.

By this time, the sight of a foreigner getting out of a taxi and walking toward the mango seller had attracted attention. Several bystanders crossed their arms and eyed me with suspicion, as if to say, “Who do you think you are?”

I threw a glance at the taxi driver. I could see nervousness on his face…….

The rest of the story is a chapter in the new book Hope for Africa and is available from

To order your copy:


June 9, 2011

What do you do after 5 days in a new country? If your Mozhdeh Mobayen you go to Trees for Life to volunteer. Mozhdeh who had arrived in Wichita from Iran less than a week ago knew that, as in Iran, she wanted to volunteer. Mozhdeh had been a volunteer  in her community and knew that helping others was part of her life. Before moving to Wichita, Mozhdeh had been an English elementary teacher in Tehran for 6 years and now she and her husband Hessam were relocating to Wichita for Hessam to complete a Ph.D. at Wichita State University.

Hessam & Mozhdeh Mobayen w/ Balbir Mathur


June 6, 2011


The University of Nicaragua, the Water Resources Research Center, Nicaragua-based NGO Comities of Potable Water and Sanitation and Trees for Life International have formed a partnership to conduct a research program to develop and implement a process to promote the degradation of fecal material with inoculation or a seeding mechanism to ensure that suitable microorganisms are present that continually break down human waste and improve sanitation conditions.

The rapid degradation of fecal matter is extremely important for countries like Nicaragua that are prone to frequent tropical storms and hurricanes. The approach that we are developing involves the utilization of locally produced plant-based enzymes that are readily applicable to any type of latrine, are environmentally sustainable as they enhance the natural degradation process.

In Phase One of the project will be primarily directed toward gathering information related to the technical aspects of the project. Phase Two will consist of full-scale field studies to assess the effectiveness of the concept.


June 2, 2011

A group of children in Kansas are helping save the lives of children around the world.

The 23 children aged 5 to 9, from 1st United Methodist Church of Wichita, have been raising money to help plant Moringa trees as part of their Day Camp activities. The students first learned about the highly nutritious Moringa tree and its potential health and medicinal properties for fighting hunger and disease in developing countries. The students then gave presentations to the numerous adult Sunday school classes in their church and collected donations.

The students came to the Trees for Life office in Wichita to present the funds they had raised – a check for $2,501.10. They were thrilled to learn from David Kimble, Executive Director of Trees for Life, that each dollar they raised and donated represented one tree to be planted, so their efforts could help thousands of children around the world.


 Why did they do it? The students were articulate in answering this question:
“Because it will help lots of hungry people.”
“The Moringa tree is really good for your health.”
“Moringa has lots of good nutrition, and it can prevent diseases.”


The students and their teachers then spent the rest of the afternoon working with Pat Felton, Volunteer Coordinator, on preparing the Moringa tree booklets that Trees for Life distributes around the world. For those couple of hours they filled the room with their joy and enthusiasm for helping others.


May 17, 2011

In 2009 Trees for Life  President Balbir Mathur spoke at an international conference Campus of Excellence in Madrid, Spain.  This was the third year for the conference which was founded by Jose Calvo, Director, Campus of Excellence. Balbir was presented a with a world-renowned Manuel Rodriguez classical guitar by Manuel Rodriguez, President of the Manuel Rodriguez Guitar Company. The Manuel Rodriguez company has been creating Spanish style guitars for 4 generations.  In conversation with Balbir, on behalf of the Manuel Rodriguez Guitar Company, Manuel agreed to donate 200 guitars to the Trees for Life partner libraries in Nicaragua if Trees for Life and Books for Life –Nicaragua would raise funds to cover the shipping and import fees.

Balbir Mathur receiving a Manuel Rodriguez guitar


 Dedicated TFL volunteers and supporters quickly raised the funds for associated expenses and the guitars were soon on their way.  On May 20, Balbir will travel to Nicaragua to participate in the dedication and distribution of the guitars.  Representatives from the 53 Books for Life Nicaragua libraries will be on hand when Jesus Santiago, President, Books for Life –Nicaragua and Balbir present the guitars for the benefit of children who now not only have libraries and computers but also the ability to make music.


To learn more about Trees for Life and its programs please join us at Trees for Life.


May 12, 2011


The Target Corporation (the store with the red bull’s eye) has a reputation built on service – service to their customers, their team members and their community. Kenton Lindsey and his band of seven facilities management employees descended on Trees for Life this past Tuesday with tools in hand. When the dust had cleared they had replaced and repaired the outside security lights, cleaned all of the window air conditioners and replaced the pneumatic actuator valves on the heat exchangers.

Target Volunteer in action

At Trees for Life, we are very grateful to this group of dedicated and giving employees of  Target for their community volunteer service activities. On an informational note, Target is one of America’s leading corporate philanthropists. They give of their time, talent and expertise and donate hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours to countless community projects across the county.

Join us at Trees for Life or Books for Life for more information about us.


April 16, 2011

Earth Day 2011 is rapidly approaching and Trees For Life wants to invite you to take an active part in this years celebration on April 22. Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylor Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held onApril 22, 1970. The event was inspired by an oil spill off of the Santa Barbara coast and it was Senator Nelson’s intent to inspire an awareness and appreciation for the environment. The event became an international event in 1990 when 141 nations participated. Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and each year is celebrated in more than 175 countries.

Trees for Life would like to express our sincerest apprecation to the thousands of volunteers, representating hundreds of schools and organizations, who over the past 30 years have dedicated their time and resources to be our partners in planting millions of trees around the world.

What are you doing for Earth Day? Check us out at Trees for Life. Our site contains a lot of information about how you can become involved. Want to plant a tree? Take a look at our Tree Adventure Kit  or our Moringa Book .

Want to know more about Earth Day – look at the sites below for more information.


March 11, 2011


First United Methodist Mission Group

David Kimble, Executive Director, Trees for Life with Bonnie Laycock (center) Director of Missions and Outreach, First United Methodist Church, Wichita, Kansas, and committee members Carolyn Vosberg (l) Lisa Guinn, Trudee Little, and Peggy Brant (r).

Bonnie and members of the Missions group were visiting TFL to tell of their experience in building three stoves in a rural village in Guatemala. They used the building plans that were provided by Trees for Life. Following a philosophy of participation and partnership the Mission group from the First United Methodist Church plans on returning to Guatemala to assist in building additional stoves. The selected families will raise their portion of the funds with the mission program providing the remaining funding. To assist the local community the stoves are constructed using local labor and materials.


Open Cooking Stove

  The new stoves are such an improvement over the open fires of the past. No need to worry about the children falling into the fire and the house is no longer filled with smoke. In homes using traditional open cooking fires the incidence of severe respiratory illness, especially among women, the main cooks, is very high and a major health concern. It takes only 3 to 4 sticks of wood to cook a meal instead of 12 to 15. Following are the basic construction steps used in construction of the highly efficient stove.

Steps in Stove Building







March 3, 2011



Keith Donohue, founder of 50give, stopped by Trees for Life to spend his day in Kansas with us. Keith is on a marathon road trip to volunteer in each of the 50 states plus Canada, Mexico, and Washington D.C.. Keith is driven by his passion for volunteering and helping others. He stated; “I hope that the trip will encourage others to give unconditionally and will provide positive press for inspiring organizations striving to make this a better world. Volunteering is the star of this trip, I am just the side-show”.


Keith working on a teaching module

Keith has selected a wide variety of activities for which to volunteer for in each of the 53 sites he will visit before ending up in Vancouver in June. By the end of his quest Keith will have worked on a Spanish language teaching module for Trees for Life, been in a pet therapy program, a recycling program, a horse therapy program for autistic children, a fund-raising program for Ronald McDonald’s, a homeless program, an art program for kids, a humane society, a cancer center, a school for the deaf, a farm rescue program, a prison program, and will end with a bike kitchen in Vancouver. Half way through the journey will be a half-time party at Tommy Joe’s including, a special event with Falling Whistles, an advocacy group that aids the children of war in the Congo.

To join Keith on his involved road trip, log on to or, even more, become a 5-star pit crew. Check out his web site for his blog and how to become a member of his pit crew.