In 2004, Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai, an environmental and political activist, became the first black African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
She was awarded the prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy, and peace.
In 1977 Dr. Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots, environmental, non-governmental organization, which has planted over 30 million trees across Kenya to prevent soil erosion.
She is known as the "Tree Woman" or "The Tree Mother of Africa". Her activism is focused on both environmental and women's issues.
She tells this story.
A huge fire broke out in the forest. All of the creatures in the forest were frightened and understandably ran to safety. Except for the hummingbird, who decided to stay and put out the fire. It flew to the nearest river, picked up a few drops of water, flew back to the fire, and opened its beak to let the water fall onto the flames. Then it flew back to the river.
The other animals watched from their safe distances as the hummingbird made trip after trip after trip from the river to the fire.
Finally the lion spoke to the hummingbird, "The few drops of water you carry from the river to the fire aren't enough to matter. You can't put out the fire. It's too big and you are too little."
"Yeah," said the giraffe. "What do you think you are doing?"
The hummingbird paused in its flight from the fire to the river long enough to say, "I'm doing the best I can."