The International Tree Foundation had the chance to interview Margret Masika, a Ugandan tree planter with a strong background in project management, women empowerment and leadership. She is also one of the chairwoman of the Alpha Women Empowerment Initiative (AWEI), a tree planting organisation near Kasese in Uganda.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and why you started planting trees?
I am Masika Margret, I live on the slopes of mountain Rwenzori, Kasese, Uganda. I started planting trees even before I joined the Alpha Women Empowerment Initiative (AWEI) in 2009. I used to plant some flowering and fruit trees around our compound. The reason I love trees is because of the support they bring to the livelihood and environment sustainability.
Can you tell us about the Alpha Women Empowerment Initiative (AWEI)?
This project supports poor women to plant and maintain trees for food, income and environment Sustainability. I became an AWEI member in 2009, and thereafter, was elected as the Board Chairperson by the General AWEI Women Assembly. I first got involved with this project in 2015 as the contact person for the International Tree Foundation.
What are the achievements within AWEI you are the most proud of?
I’m very proud that AWEI have directly supported over 1063 women to plant and maintain grafted mangoes trees for food, income and support the environment. It has also established 8 mangoes nursery beds for the raising mangoes seedlings. Moreover, the project has mobilized 1000 women to benefit from the agro forestry project.
How do you think this project has empowered you and other women?
This project has enabled our volunteering staff and board members to acquire knowledge and skills on tree planting project management, monitoring and evaluation. It has enabled other women to get better knowledge and skills on tree planting, maintenance and the dangers of deforestation.
As one of the chairwomen of AWEI, what is your approach to leadership?
I conduct meetings and share ideas with the members and follow up on the implementation of the resolutions. I encourage democratic decision making by involving other members and respect their ideas. I use effective communication and ensure that the organisation’s purpose, vision, mission and objectives are respected.
What is the most important thing you have learned in life?
Poverty and hunger are major causes for deforestation. Women are good change agents in increasing tree survival when empowered.
What are your hopes in the future?
We are currently working on supporting 1000 women to plant 100,000 Musizi, Albezia and Moringa trees. I would also like to ensure that the grafted mangoes project is sustained.
What is your favorite tree?
My favorite tree is the Mango tree. However, I still love any other tree that is friendly to food production and environment.