Trees for Life: Making Life Better Through Fruit Trees and Animation
The Los Angeles trip has hurried along their second animated project. This film will be directed toward people in India to educate them about a remarkable tree that grows in their own backyard. Each year in India, 500,000 children are blinded and millions more die due to vitamin A deficiency. In the midst of this horror, however, a tree called the drumstick tree exists. The drumstick tree's leaves contain 10 times more vitamin A than carrots and are a commonly accepted form of food. Trees for Life has already developed an educational package explaining the nutritional value of these leaves. Now, they are teaming up with several other groups to create an animated video which discusses the use of these leaves in a healthy diet. This film will utilize paper cutouts and include artists from India and Guatemala. Production will begin on April 1and Mathur maintains that this is not an April's fool. "We already have the storyboard and Frédéric is going to be here to start us off." The project will be completed by July.
But of course, Mathur's dreams do not end with these two animated shorts and US schools. As usual, he has much grander schemes. First, he realizes that they have to set up a truly working studio in Kansas. "Anyone who would like to come work with us, even for a few days, would be most welcome." Trees for Life is looking for animation savvy individuals to help train their core group of workers or donate equipment. Then "we will pass on this knowledge to others," says Mathur. He has hopes of opening up an animation studio in Allahabad, India where school children will learn to use the art of animation to express themselves and their concerns. "They have to ask and answer their own questions." More animation studios in other developing nations would then be planned based on the success of the model in India.
However, whatever the future holds, Mathur feels this group is already an overwhelming success. In fact, he cannot truly count the number of trees the group has planted because the movement is so successful at working on a community level. "It just spreads. We cannot control it . . . We are people who are dancing and our life missions are already completed just when we arrive here (at Trees for Life). I don't plant trees because of ambitions, goals or dreams. I plant them because this is the gift I give to my beloved, this planet."
If you would like to help or learn more about Trees for Life, check out their Web page on AWN (http://www.awn.com/treesforlife), or in North America, call them toll free at 1-800-873-3736.
Heather Kenyon is Manager of Production Information
at Hanna-Barbera Cartoons and a freelance writer.
Heather Kenyon is Manager of Production Information at Hanna-Barbera Cartoons and a freelance writer.