Thank You Everyone!

Written by Ilke
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TPE 2011 sticker TPE 2011 sticker Sunbeams

On a beautiful spring day, people of all ages and backgrounds planted the second Sunbeams forest in Belgium. International and Belgian schools, scout groups and girl guides, ambassadors and children, Belgian and expat organisations, all had the same task on that sunny day: to turn a meadow into a forest. Together, they planted 4300 trees in one day in the outskirts of a village called Oetingen (Gooik)!


People of all ages and backgrounds planted trees for different reasons - they planted trees for the planet, for a better environment, for more oxygen, because they like trees, because they love tree hugging, because they love to climb trees, because they enjoy making a major difference together, or simply because they "love the treats after the planting". Whatever their reasons were, the result was powerful! A new Sunbeams forest of 4300 trees - each proudly waving a ribbon with a message of love, peace, remembrance, or pure fun.

We had some remarkable fundraisers who worked hard to earn their trees: some went to the office of their dad to collect money for trees, some raised money for 570 trees with a group of just 7 individuals, some did a friendly competition between classes at their school and got this year's highest score for a school (170 trees!), and some did chores at home to earn their tree. On the day itself, however, everyone combined the tree planting with fun - a family biking 18 km to get there, people celebrating a birthday party in the meadow, children running between the saplings, and others enjoying a picnic.

We were proud to have some special guests this year: a few ambassadors planting with their families, like the one from the UK, and even an EU commissioner. The Sunbeams event had a sub-event this year: the Slovenian community celebrated their 20th anniversary of independence by planting saplings of their national tree, the linden tree, at our event. "Nature is beautiful, but also mighty," said Mr. Janez Poto?nik, the EU Commissioner for the Environment. He opened their celebration by highlighting the international cooperation needed to address the pressing environmental issues of today. Mr. Poto?nik and the Slovenian ambassadors spoke and planted their own linden trees together with the Slovenian community, answered questions from children, helped them to plant their trees, and posed for pictures with them.

Like last year, technical assistance to plant all the trees in one day was provided by the Forest Association of Flanders (VBV). After some physical work, it was lovely to taste the organic homemade soup of our colleagues from and to chat with the nature organisations present with their booth for a second year in a row. Knowing the forest we planted in 2010 is thriving, we cross our fingers for this new one and we will keep you posted on the progress of these saplings on our Facebook page and on our website.

We were extremely happy and overwhelmed after such a day. It felt absolutely great to have made such a difference together!

Thank you all!

Ilke Pedersen-Beyst

President of Sunbeams

P.S. A special newsletter on the tree planting event is on its way with some delay, but not forgotten!

This article was originally published in the May 2011 edition of the Sunbeams Newsletter.

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