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Archive for September 30th, 2011

This past Sunday, September 25, 2011, the world lost an amazing advocate for peace when Wangari Maathai died during treatment of her Ovarian cancer in Nairobi. Wangari worked tirelessly to help spread both economic prosperity and environmental awareness and change across Africa.

Wangari was born in Kenya and studied there until her college years, from which she was sponsored by a committee of John F. Kennedy to represent Africa and travel to America to attended Higher Education in America. During her studies Wangari focused on Biology and German and during her time witnessed the first hand effects of Environmental Restoration in Pittsburgh. She pursued her education to a Masters Degree in Biology.

Wangari was soon promised a job at a Univeristy in Kenya and when she traveled back to claim the job the offer had been withdrawn. Wangari believed that this was because of her gender and tribal bias. After a few months Wangari found herself work in Germany as an assistant researcher of microanatomy at the University College of Nairobi. Here she met her future husband and continued her studies to become the East African to obtain a PhD in Anatomy.

After her extensive Education Wangari sought out a political life and fought for equal rights rights for women working at her university. She began to fight and advocate for democracy in Kenya as well as pursuing official office. However even without actual government holding she worked to make Kenya an equal and thriving democracy.She finally achieved her position and fought hard in parliament before not being re-elected. However even after her loss she continued to serve as an Assistant Minister for Environmental and Natural resources under Mwai Kibaki until her removal for her radical policies.

In 2004 Wangari became the first African to obtain the Nobel Peace Prize for, “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” What contributed the most to her award was most probably her work in Green Belt, an organization which under Wangari helped higher women to plant trees across Africa for meager wages. This idea grew into creating tree nurseries and gained international attention. Wangari soon found herself escorting delegates and international figures to her work to raise awareness for her cause.

While there isn’t much that hasn’t been said about this incredible woman yet I believe it’s worth saying that there aren’t many women as bold, brave, intelligent, or cunning as Wangari Maathai. Her work helped define and grow a region and her impact will always be remembered. I ask that we all take some time out to look over her work, which can be summed up (if possible) in her extensive wikipedia page. Let your friends know and pass this around. Although her death is an unfortunate thing I believe her legacy should inspire everyone, including those here at Peace Train, around the world to do something positive and daring in our communities.

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