GAGA UK’s Remembering Tree

© Tom Benjamin, Go Cotswolds. Used with permission.

Based in my hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon, Goodwill and Growth for Africa UK (GAGA-UK) is a charity that works to “generate growth for African children and communities devastated by HIV-AIDS and poverty, through the goodwill of people in the UK and elsewhere”. It establishes and supports projects in southern Africa to provide a “hand up” not a “hand out” – in other words, working with communities to empower people to find ways out of poverty.

Living in this privileged part of the UK, in a country that’s pretty privileged as a whole, it’s easy to forget – and to choose to ignore – the fact that many people in the world do not have the opportunities that we take for granted every day; things like, having enough food to eat, a roof over our heads, access to free healthcare and education, and so on.

The Remembering Tree is an innovative GAGA-UK initiative that not only brightens up Stratford’s Waterside area, but also serves to raise awareness of, and money for, the charity’s important work. The Remembering Tree, and a number of smaller trees nearby, is covered in hundreds of brightly-coloured crocheted granny squares, and baubles, each sponsored by individuals or companies wishing to remember a relative or friend who is no longer with us – a lovely gesture as we approach Christmas, which is a difficult time for many.

© Tom Benjamin, Go Cotswolds. Used with permission.

After meeting GAGA’s Director Sarah at a recent business networking event, my husband Tom agreed to sponsor a tree on behalf of his tour company, Go Cotswolds. We visited southern Africa in 2013 and saw some of the poverty GAGA seeks to eliminate first hand – so it was a no-brainer for us!

© Lisa Benjamin
© Lisa Benjamin

What’s more, Tom volunteered my crochet skills to help decorate the tree! The yarn used is synthetic, so as not to damage the tree, and once the project is over, it is all recycled into blankets for children back in Africa.

I originally signed up to make 4 squares, but found it was such fun, and such a great stash-buster, that I ended up making double!

The Remembering Trees look amazing in this unseasonally sunny Winter sunshine we’re enjoying, so if you live in or near Stratford-upon-Avon, or if you intend to visit one day soon, be sure to check out the unusually colourful Waterside! Until then, here’s a fabulous video of the day The Remembering Tree was yarnbombed…!

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