Sunday, September 26, 2010

i'm not fasting, and i made a quiz.

hi blogosphere. how are things? i'm busy like the bees, Ramadan's over and I'm 24 now (i know, i know, old lady) and super-busy. our trip to Spain for mine and my grandmother's birthdays (we share one) was amazing, i'm still dreaming about gelato. i just finished a 2 day HIV/AIDs training, so i can more confidently incorporate AIDS education in my work. i've also been working on the tree nursery competition, since my regional co-coordinator and i were in the same place at the same time (a rare occurrence). i made a little quiz for the teachers, to give their students and get incorporate into their lessons about the importance of trees. i know america doesn't have the same tree crisis as over here, but i think the quiz is pretty interesting (probably cuz i made it), and it might even inspire some of you to go out there and plant trees (or at least do some recycling!) anyways, here it is, questions first, answers second so don't scroll down and cheat!

1) One tree produces ______ kg of oxygen per year.
a. 36
b. 82
d. 250

2) 0.4 hectares of trees remove _______ of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year.
a. 23 kg
b. 2.6 tons
c. 1.2 tons
d. 1 ton

3) The age of a tree can be calculated by ___________.
a. the rings in the trunk
b. the width of the roots
c. it’s height
d. the number of fruits it produces

4) A tree can store the most carbon after it has been alive for _______ - or more!
a. 3 months
b. 2 years
c. 6 years
d. 10 years

5) Trees provide food and shelter for _____________.
a. birds
b. people
c. insects
d. all of the above

6) Worldwide, more than _______ hectares of trees are lost to deforestation every year.
a. 4 million
b. 13 million
c. 12 million
d. 7 million

7) Trees prevent loss of nutrient-rich topsoil by__________.
a. their root systems preventing erosion
b. creating natural windbreaks
c. both a and b
d. none of the above

8) In Africa, out of every ___ trees cut down, only ONE tree is replanted.
a. 28
b. 45
c. 3

9) Over the past 100 years, West Africa has been stripped of ____ of its forest cover.
a. 20 %
b. 35%
c. 78%
d. 90%

10) People in the Gambia rely on trees for _________.
a. bush fruits
b. medicine
c. fuel wood
d. all of the above…and more!

One tree produces 117 kg of oxygen per year, the oxygen that we breathe every day. Trees produce oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis, a process by which they take in carbon dioxide and sunlight and use it to create their food (carbohydrates), than release oxygen as a byproduct.
Less than one hectare of trees can remove up to 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide from the air every year! Because carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, this means that trees are a major weapon against global climate change.
The scientific process of dendrochronology allows scientists to date trees by analyzing the rings seen in the cross-section of a tree’s trunk. A tree usually adds a ring per year, unless the weather that year is irregular.
Trees are able to store more carbon as they age, and they store the most after they have been living for ten years. Trees also remove other pollutants from the air, such as ozone (another greenhouse gas) and sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides.
Trees are habitats for many different species of animals, and provide building materials for the homes of most humans. Trees even provide homes or shelter for marine animals, such as oysters that live on tree roots or fish that lay eggs there. Trees also provide fruits to flavor our sauces, and feed us, such as baobab and their leaves feed many mammals we live with, such as goats.
Deforestation is a serious threat to the health of our environment. At least 12 million hectares of trees are lost every year, and the trees cut down are often not replanted, leaving animals homeless and releasing tons of carbon back into the atmosphere.
Not only do trees clean up the air and provide homes for wildlife, they also preserve the land around them. They provide stability with their root systems that keeps soil in place, and they create natural windbreaks that prevent topsoil from being blown away.
Only one out of every 28 trees cut down is replanted. This means that out of 100 trees cut down, only three or four new trees are planted. Make it your goal to replace EVERY tree you cut down. Trees are one of the cheapest, easiest ways to clean up our environment.
West Africa (including the Gambia) is one of the most severely affected areas of the world. Over 90% of West Africa’s forest cover has been lost over the past century, robbing them of all the benefits of trees. Desertification, the degradation of land in climates such as West Africa has, is accelerated by loss of trees like this.
Gambians use trees for many things, such as medicine, shade on hot days, bush tea, flavoring sauces, building houses, cooking, selling fruits to supplement income, fencing fields, and many other things. Can you think of a way not listed here that you and your family use trees?

if i were an 8th grader, this quiz would make me plant a tree. just saying.
love everybody!

Friday, September 3, 2010

fasting month

hold on to your headscarves ladies and gents, it's ramadan. or as the mandinka aptly call it, sungkaro, or fasting month. and fast they do. from sun-up to sun-down, no eating. or drinking. and those rice fields aren't going to tend to themselves.
naps are very popular during ramadan.
and, as you might expect, everybody wants to talk about it. there's none of this suffering in silence nonsense that my stoic catholic upbringing may have led me to believe (ok, ok. not that stoic of an upbringing. and i'm aware of the value of a well-timed sigh. i know what catholic guilt is). no, it's more of a shout-it-from-the-rooftops kind of suffering. here's an example of a typical exchange between me and your average ramadan faster, translated from mandinka for your reading pleasure
"hello, do you have peace (a typical greeting here)?"
aisha! (my gambain name). are you fasting today?
"no. i don't fast."
you don't fast? why not? fasting is nice.
"i'm not a muslim. how is your family?"
you should be a muslim. you will fast tomorrow.
"maybe tomorrow i will fast (here, when you say maybe tomorrow i will, that's code for i'm never going to do that. it's pretty handy, unless you actually don't know whether you're going to do something tomorrow or not)"
oh aisha, you should fast. fasting is nice.
"i know. i have to go now"
wait. what time is it? i am so hungry.
"it's 4:30"
aisha, did you know i can't drink water until 7:30? i am so thirsty.
"praise allah."
ok aisha. see you later.

yes, despite being told multiple times how nice fasting is, i remain truly unconvinced. i did go without eating for a few days, more because of a sinus infection than religious conviction. but at least i could lie on the mats with everyone else and complain about how hungry i was. and i did "break fast" with the family at sunset, where you have a small meal to celebrate you can finally eat again. then they pray. a lot. the prayer has reached a new level during these last 10 days of ramadan, where it is said that one of these days (though you can't be sure which one) counts for more than 9 years of prayer and supplication, and fasting. since they don't know which one it is, every night for the last 10 days of ramadan people go to the mosque and pray from 1-4 am, sometimes standing in holy reverance for hours at a time. it's a time of exhausted worship. after praying all night, they eat very early, around 5 am, and then nap, then work in the fields, nap again, break fast, pray, eat dinner, and pray. despite how tedious this sounds, it's not. it's really a very social thing, as well as pious. they get to commiserate. they nap together. they pray together. they mock those who almost fell asleep at the mosque and those who look (ever so slightly) more hungry than the others. all in all, ramadan isn't such a bad deal. for me. because i'm not fasting.