AMERICAS · Chile
Walking, walking … to protect the environment
Since her childhood, her love of exploring has led Kikuchi Konomi (44) to open the way for other women. Devasted by the suicide of her first husband, she decided to transform this tragedy in a manner that would be of service to all.
During a long march of 1000 kms undertaken with her second husband, Paul Coleman, she planted trees across China, Korea and Japan. During her march, she met thousands of people and shared powerful messages on the environment. Her march met with an extraordinary attention in China and her experience was broadly relayed through the media, encouraging other countries to welcome the march. At times, she slept outdoors in freezing temperatures, experiencing hunger for the first time, and facing constant physical pain. But she just marched on, courageously and with a smile, undaunted by these challenges.
She started an online community “Marching across the planet, planting trees”, which attracted thousands of on line members. Kikuchi walked another 3300 kms for 11 months from Hong Kong to Taijin (China). Other persons from abroad (Great Britain, New Zeland, Japan, China) joined her in the walk. During this trip, she was especially disturbed by the effect on human health of the water pollution in the province of Shandong, where river water in which women washed vegetables and children, was heavily polluted with chemical products poured directly from factories, and human feces. She organized protests to present documentaries on the environment in China and to propose durable solutions.
She now works in Chile with her husband in an isolated region of Patagonia, on a sustainable house-building project. In a country recently rocked by a devastating earthquake, they are demonstrating the benefits of sustainability and an alternative economy to the local villages.