Dillon Woods is clearly a man who believes in the future. He has spent the last few days planting trees at Hobeni. Only someone who has an absolute faith in the future plants trees, especially trees that will not mature in the lifetime of the person planting them. Some of the scenes yesterday were very odd. A tree walked past the library window which is on the first floor. Either it was Birnam Wood on its way to Dunsinane, or it was Treebeard the Ent.
The planting of metaphorical trees by the Donald Woods Foundation is a very important part of its work.
First, there is the tree of health. The Foundation is running a programme called “Health in Every Hut” on behalf of the government. Community workers are travelling to every house and homestead in the region, identifying people who need treatment for diseases such as diabetes and HIV, and helping them to get such treatment. The scheme also deals with mother and baby healthcare issues. The Foundation is helping to ensure that a preventive health scheme is available in this area of the Eastern Cape.
We are also working on the tree of education to ensure that the doors of learning and culture are open to all. The library is now almost ready for public use. There are over 1,000 books and 4,000 documents available in the library. An appeal is going out for children’s books, books in Xhosa and books on the history of South Africa in general and Xhosa history in particular. The library will be a resource for the local community here in Bomvanaland and beyond to assist with literacy campaigns and education in general. And this resource will be available to generation upon generation.
Another tree being built is the tree of the economy. The foundation is running a scheme to inoculate livestock against disease. The local farmers are delighted with this because it creates a huge improvement in their livestock, and that is of benefit to the whole community.
There are many other ways in which the Donald Woods Foundation is helping to improve the lives of people in the Transkei – too many to detail. In these ways the Foundation is helping to nourish that tree of liberty that was planted in South Africa twenty years ago, on 27th April 1994.
And, as Burns put it:-
“Wi’ plenty o sic trees, I trow,
The world would live in peace, man;
The sword would help to mak a plough,
The din o war would cease, man.
Like brethren in a common cause,
We’d on each other smile, man
And equal rights and equal laws,
Wad gladden every isle, man”.
Donald and Wendy Woods would be so proud of what is being achieved.