Wangari Maathai to be honored at local events

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GUILFORD -- There will be many opportunities to honor the memory of Wangari Maathai over the next few weeks. Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, passed away from complications of cancer in a hospital in Nairobi last weekend. She was beloved in this community for her willingness to share her wisdom and commitment to the environment, having planted trees at the Guilford Church, the Oak Grove School and because so many came to know her through her connection to SIT Graduate Center. Her long-term relationship with Lisa Merton and Alan Dater, local filmmakers who made a film "Taking Root" about her life and work, brought her into the lives of many here and around the world.

This Sunday the Guilford Nine O’Clock Choir will honor her memory with the song she sang over and over with groups of women in Kenya, "Hakuna Mungu Kama Yeye," which celebrates both the glory of creation and the strength and courage of women and those present will have the opportunity to sign a guest book which will be carried to Nairobi for her funeral.

Sunday, Oct. 16, the church will welcome Lisa Merton to the Sunday 10 a.m. worship to speak about Maathai’s life and work. Music at the service will include "Amazing Grace" sung in kikuyu, Maathai’s native language as well as songs honoring the earth and a special collection will be taken in her memory for the Green Belt Movement.

The night before Saturday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m. at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, the Brattleboro Interfaith Youth will host an African dinner, featuring Kenyan dishes as well as a short film about Maathai’s work and information for the public about their upcoming trip to Maathai’s home community where they will live with villagers, plant trees and work with children in local schools.

Linda Whelihan, the art teacher from Marlboro, will help those interested create an installation in her memory. Tickets cost $10 for the meal and everyone is welcome.

Finally, on Oct. 22, the Guilford Nine O’Clock Choir will offer a benefit for children orphaned by AIDS sponsored by the Green Belt Movement.

Music will include the African spiritual "Let the life I Live Speak for Me" in her memory as well as African and traditional American Music.

The public is welcome to any and all of these events.

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