Caring for the Forest That Cares for Us

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By Victoria Rosas Peribán

The Forest of Interbeing is a cooperation between the international Wake Up movement (young people for a healthy and compassionate society) and the local conservation project DEMATAC (Defenders of the Environment of Los Tuxtlas) in the south of the Mexican state of Veracruz. Many different habitats are found in the region of Los Tuxtlas, including mangrove forests, cloud forests, coastal dunes, and the northernmost tropical rainforest on the American continent.

It’s very rich in biodiversity, and the tropical forests here are important for climate change mitigation. The Forest of Interbeing works to protect these forests and raise awareness in the local community about their wonderful natural heritage.

I live in San Andrés Tuxtla, the main town in the region. I became involved with the Forest of Interbeing project through my sister, Lili, who had been working with the project since its beginning in 2014. I was always interested in the work she and her friends did and also that they combined their work with meditation.

One day, my sister invited me to come with her to a meditation session of the Forest of Interbeing and I accepted with enthusiasm. I must say that after this experience, I fell in love with the Forest of Interbeing and everything they do. Soon, my new friend Christoph, an Austrian who lives in Los Tuxtlas and who was involved in starting the project, showed me how to meditate.

I began to guide meditations and, little by little, began to assist more with the project, looking for places where we could plant trees and arranging for us to visit schools to present workshops on environmental education. Lili and I even established a little tree nursery in the backyard at our house. My mum sometimes thinks that we are crazy, but when she sees the results, she’s proud of us.

I think what inspires me the most to participate is knowing that I’m actively involved in conservation, which is much better than simply getting angry and posting criticism on Facebook. This year I started to study tourism at a university here in San Andrés Tuxtla. Thanks to my involvement in the Forest of Interbeing, I’ve learned about the importance of inspiring people to be mindful of the impact they can potentially have on the Earth. In my studies I’m encouraged to promote ecotourism, which is in harmony with both nature and the way of life of the local people.

Wake Up and the Forest of Interbeing have been very important in my life. Beyond being conservation-oriented, the project also actively engages its members to be better people every day, to be at peace with ourselves, with nature, and with everything that surrounds us. It is based on the conviction that there’s no way to take care of something else if we don’t first take care of ourselves.

Whenever you undertake a project, there will always be criticism and negative comments questioning it. Nevertheless, I’m 100% convinced that every activity we do is for the benefit of something more important than all of us together, something that might even save our lives someday.

You can find more detailed information about the project and ways to support us: wkupmx.org/forestofinterbeing or our Facebook page: Forest of Interbeing – Selva del Interser. If you have any questions, you are welcome to write to us at wakeupforest[at]gmail[dot]com.

Victoria Rosas Peribán was born on August 9, 1998, in the city of San Andrés Tuxtla, Veracruz.

Reprinted with permission from mindfulnessbell.org

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