In 2019, during the long process for the Ashoka fellowship, at the end of a very long morning of interviews, I met the founder of Treedom who told us about his project. As Federico spoke, I began to imagine a space dedicated to the Little Princes and Little Princesses of CiaoLapo, virtual and physical at the same time, cared for by our association and hundreds of arms around the world.
After two hours, the forest of Little Princes had already taken shape as I returned home by train. A couple of cocoa trees, two lemon trees, three or four coffees, a mangrove, two pomegranates, and the hope that other parents would help us grow our forest.
After three years, the Little Princes and Little Princesses forest has 195 trees: 118 trees have the parents of one of our boys and girls as janitors.
Each year we support Treedom’s project by purchasing 100 trees for our forest, which we will assign to our parents-guardians.
Each year we encourage our community to put some of the love that our children left in our arms into circulation.
Why a forest?
As many and most of you know, perinatal grief is still taboo. It is so taboo that for many people abortion or severely premature birth are not bereavements because they happen “too soon.” And even when death occurs later, it is believed to be, at best, a private problem of the parents. In short, our society tends to trivialize pregnancy loss, or the death of an infant, and has a hard time recognizing the impact these losses have on women, couples, and families. We are expected to turn over a new leaf. We are expected to tear up a page. We are expected to forget, when we know full well that tearing out the page or forgetting is not needed and cannot be done. It is expected that, in time, our boys and girls will disappear again, forever. We at CiaoLapo know that you can go through grief, we know that you can process absence without making too many disasters, and we know that you can smile and laugh, again. But we also know that to do all this work, the page cannot be torn out, but must be read all the way through, carefully and then turned over, gently, knowing that we can read it again when necessary.
I believe that the very fast passage on our planet of our Little Princes and Princesses, can and should be narrated and remembered, because it is part of our lives. A worthy part.
The forest is a practical and symbolic way to celebrate the love that remains after their passing with some tenderness and beauty. We like to remember, put back into our hearts, and spread this love as much as possible, embracing, with our trees and janitors, the whole planet.
How can you support this project?
During 2022 well 96 people have decided to support the project of the Forest of Little Princes and Little Princesses by partnering with CiaoLapo in the way Member Green, a form of sustaining membership that cuts down on shipping and allows our members to receive a gift of a tree from our forest. In 2023 we will definitely repeat this experience and hope that everyone will decide to renew their green membership and many more will join. Early January we will let you know how to do it.
Green Christmas gift
In addition, this year, for Christmas 2022, we have specially purchased a new kit from Treedom and are providing you with 40 new trees that you can choose to give to as many janitors.
How does CiaoLapo’s green Christmas gift work? You will be able to go to our donation portal (direct link here) and select the option “Christmas 2022 – give a tree” (remember that for the sake of fiscal transparency we register all donors, so if you are not yet registered on the donation portal, you will have to do so the first time). At this point you can make the 26€ donation by choosing the paypal or wire transfer option and the system will send you a receipt.
As soon as we can (within a few days at most) we will register your tree on Treedom and send you a pdf card to download and send to your gift recipient (or even to print and hand-deliver for Christmas or whenever, if you prefer). There is an alphanumeric code on the card that you enter on the Treedom website will allow you to get custody of the tree and customize it to your liking.
Of course, you can also give it to yourself as a gift if you want….
To conclude, I leave you with a poem I wrote in October 2006, before I had the courage to plant new trees. Thank you for your support and see you next time.
I am a tree
I am a tree
Who tasted the bitterness of lightning
And a boat,
Who passed the hurricane
And I am the leaf
That the caterpillar has mutilated
And a pillaged nest…
Much more are;
With the emptiness of loss I remain,
stretched beyond absence.