Peter Donaldson received his MA in Human Rights Practice in 2020 and has since continued work in northern Ghana that he began as a student at the University of Arizona. Here he describes his involvement with the new initiative "Savannah Rising." For more background Peter and his work, please see his HRTS alum profile.
The journey started in late 2019 when, under the tutelage of Human Rights Practice Prof. Mette Brogden. When I was looking for a capstone MA project she mentioned the idea of working in Ghana with Rashid Iddrisu, a frequent lecturer in her classes whom I'd met in Spain months earlier. Rashid is the leader of World Institute of Africa Culture and Traditions (WIACT).
The trip became reality in January 2020 and the ideas started flowing in an initial meeting with Buipewura Jinapor, Paramount Chief of the Buipe Traditional Area and President of the Buipe Traditional Council, when he talked about the poverty of the Savannah Region. My response was: "You are not poor, you just do not have money. You have amazing resources and culture and I presented him the name 'Savannah Rising' as a goal to unlock this wealth."
Time passed with COVID-19 interruptions and changes to the initial plan but finally in a visit in March 2023 the groundwork for Savannah Rising was set. Upon return we filed the legal framework as a fundraiser for WIACT's Native Trees For Education and are now 501(C)3 certified as a non-profit.
The program is using school children to plant native tree seedlings as part of the curriculum. The trees we are producing are vital for food security, fighting desertification, medicinal use, or cultural significance, or are in danger of extinction due to exploitation by foreign interests. We are asking donors “to buy” the trees from the children with plantings taking place on school grounds, villages, heavily deforested areas. and agroforestry farms.
For every $2.00 received, we have committed $1.00 to aid the students in school supplies, testing fees, school infrastructure and others. The remaining goes for paying local salaries and other costs, all monies received stay in Ghana. We currently have close to 5000 trees growing in nurseries with planting to take place in the next 7 months. Please visit us at www.savannahrising.org. Your tree purchase would be greatly appreciated!