The story behind the Mezimbite Forest Centre: Restoring forests, rebuilding lives.

Last year an award-winning documentary crew came to Mezimbite to film the story behind the Mezimbite Forest Centre.

When South African architect Allan Schwarz retired from his Teaching Fellow position at M.I.T., he decided to return to the African continent and put his expertise to work on the ground in Mozambique. Founded in 1994 after the Mozambican Civil War, the Mezimbite Forest Centre, not only restores forests but creates beautifully-handcrafted products by training the people in the community, primarily for the benefit of the people who live near the resources. “I taught at MIT – it’s a hell of a difference teaching grad students in one of the top universities on the planet to teaching semi-literate guys where this is the only job opportunity they will have in their life.” With 6 percent formal sector employment in Mozambique, Allan attests that, “Willingness is not a shortage here.”

“It is not that what we do [at Mezimbite] is heroic; it is what other people do that is shameful – and that is, they are not putting back,” he says upon reflection of maintaining and restoring the forest’s resources. “This is my life’s work…I’d rather die doing this then being an architect for the big corporations. Let the other guys do that,” reflects Schwarz. “I don’t have any allusions that I’m saving the planet. I do however believe that if I can convince another half a dozen people life myself to put in the effort, that there is a better chance.”


One Response to “The story behind the Mezimbite Forest Centre: Restoring forests, rebuilding lives.”

  1. Kim Abelman

    This reality, this project (if you will), this industry, is testimony to the fact that hard work and dedication to the greater good xZn be achieved. Twenty years of it!! And even after twenty years, there are still huge leaps to be made in order to remotely dream of changing the way we do things today. But THANK YOU Allan for showing us the way, for showing us that it is possible, and that there are indeed a few good, brilliant, smart, dedicated leaders out there!

    To quote you: “It’s not that what we do is heroic; it’s what other people do that is actually shameful, and that is they’re not putting back”. Thank you for proving th wrong, thank you for doing what others don’t ever contemplate in their whole existence on this beautiful planet.

    You touch our hearts and souls.


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