Editor’s Note: International Women’s Day is Saturday, 8 March, and in honor of women’s many contributions to forestry, Forests News is publishing stories from readers about their “forest heroines” — women who have devoted their lives to make a difference for the world’s forests and the people who live in them. Throughout the week, we will be sharing these women’s stories. In this one, guest blogger Helga Gruberg writes about her forest heroine, Sofia Vexina.
In Bolivia, yunta is a pair of oxen or mules working together to work the land.
Such work is strenuous and difficult for one mule without the other.
Sofia Vexina is my yunta, my work partner. Together we prepare the land for planting hundreds of native trees in the city of Cochabamba.
Moreover, she is my yunta in the challenging task of preparing people for these plantations as the pro-tree culture of our city is becoming a pro-concrete culture in which trees are seen as more of a problem than a benefit.
Sofia is a 31-year-old Cochabambina, and she is not discouraged by anything. For her, there are no major obstacles. She understands the harmonious fusion of philosophical, esoteric and practical aspects of urban forestry. She is a dreamer, but one with her feet firmly on the ground.
Today, more than 200 trees are standing thanks to Sofia’s dedication — and many neighbors have reconnected with these native trees.This is what motivates her to defend and plant hundreds of trees, to transmit knowledge to future generations, to increase quality of life and to spread her love of nature.
Since 2013, Sofia has been working as a volunteer to help reforestation of the neighborhood of Villa Coronilla in Cochabamba. In just one year, Sofia has succeeded in planting hundreds of trees in the face of drought, tree vandalism, pests, prejudice and floods.
Coincidentally, Villa Coronilla is known as the “Neighborhood of Heroines” for the independence battle fought by Cochabamba’s women against Spanish forces.
Today, I recognize Sofia as a forest heroine.
Helga Gruberg is volunteer project coordinator of Urban Forests and Ecological Corridors, which was started by Gaia Pacha Foundation, in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
The views expressed above are those of the author and not the Center for International Forestry Research.
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