For many it is NOT a choice, they are born into their circumstances
As we work with partners and in communities, we often get asked why people in the communities we serve can't just get a job or do something useful with their time. For many of us we realte to problems and issues others and the media raise in the context of our own life experience and circumstance. The problems that are raised about developing countries and their urban and rural communities, seem so simple depending on your own experieinces and yet in reality they are actually quite complex. These problems and circumstances, such as poverty, didn't suddenly happen, they have existed for decades and in some cases for generations or centuries, and so people are born into these circumstances and finding a way out is impossible for most.
Walk a mile in my shoes...
When we ask people in these communities what's the first thing we can do to help, they typically answer, that they'd like to be accepted for who they are and where they are. When we ask what else we can do, their responses are generally, don't try to help me by doing it for me, teach me how to help myself.
Equipped with this knowledge and understanding, we run all of our My World In a Garden projects in a manner where we bring resources and skilled professionals in to communities focusing on the transfer of skills so that the people in these communities can then assist others and help themselves out of their circumstance. They don't choose to be in the situations and circumstances they find themselves in, they are quite literally born into it.
When asked why we do it we consider our options. We have the option to choose to help and transfer skills or ignore it completely and address only immediate needs. We willingly and consciously choose to help, for the long term. My Arms Wide Open and the My World In a Garden cause are 100% volunteer based and although each of us makes our own choice, we all make the same choice.
When governments do not have the much-needed resources to help their own people as much as they'd like to or in fact need to, then outside help is needed. This is not simply a case of lack of water, it includes generations of sub-standard education, substance and physical abuse, dire poverty, food insecurity, lack of simple resources, like menstrual pads, to help keep girls in school (see our www.GirlStuffPeriod.com project) and health challenges that result from the lack of basic needs and basic human rights. In general these issues are lumped on the backs of women as the men move away to try and earn income and then land up not returning in many cases.
We see this same scenario in many countries around the world, including developed nations where governments do have the resources to make change. However, if the general population isn't willing to engage and pressure their governments to engage, those issues go unresolved as well. We can understand that it is hard to relate to, unless you actually experience it, and we truly would not wish that on any person, which is why we choose as volunteers to go and live in these communities that invite us in to help, so that we can better understand the issues they truly have and work with them to create solutions for themselves.
By understanding the contect and culture of the people where they are, and as we go into different communities we must account for the differences and adapt to what and how we support the people in those communities and what they grow in the food walls. When we teach this, not simply do it, the community s able to then share the technology with other communities and set those communities up for success.
Duplicating the Process
So why are we telling you this? It is critical for us to have the resources available to continually update our curriculums and programs so that we can achieve our ultimate goal where the program takes on a life of its own and the vegetable food walls start to pop up in communities everywhere. To do this we need to keep building and spreading the word for now and that's where we need your help.
Your contributions make all the difference
There are many ways that you can support our effort to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the girls, women and children that we serve.
Whatever you decide, please do it today! The girls, women and children we serve extend a warm smile and heartfelt ‘thank you’ for your support. We are all grateful for your support.
Growing the Right Food
As we build more of our Vegetable Food Walls we realize how important it is to make the right selections in each community and to consult as broad a group as possible within the community. Just using healthy as the guiding factor, doesn't make for the best choices. While our My World, My Garden and My World in a Garden programs are successful, we'd like to share what that means to us.
Creating a Successful Vegetable Food Wall
Many people may think that because one of our vegetable food walls grew really well and produced a lot of food, that we might deem that to be successful. The fact is that we measure success very differently. We don't look at growth, but focus on consumption.
We look at success from this point of view so that we can determine how well we listened, heard and implemented the feedback from community members during our assessments, into our projects. After all, we could grow thousands of pounds of vegetables and if they are not the vegetables the community members actually eat, then what was it all for?
Duplicating the Process
Your Contributions Make All the Difference
There are many ways that you can support our effort to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the girls, women and children that we serve. Visit the My Arms Wide Open site to find out more.
Please Donate Now!
How can you help to keep girls in Africa in school… ?
Keeping girls in school is a great cause and we love what we get to do with your support, however the picture is far more complex and bigger than you might possibly imagine. In one of our other programs, GirlStuff – Pads4Girls that can also be found on GlobalGiving, we provide girls with the washable and reusable menstrual supplies they desperately need so that they don’t miss any time off from school, simply because they can’t afford to buy menstrual supplies.
We’ve learned that the menstrual kits we provide get girls back to school but do not necessarily keep them in school. Why? Well, part of what girls are supposed to be doing for their families is to find food for the next meal. Something boys are not expected to do.
How do we help?
How we help is by building our vertical vegetable gardens in the form of a 40 foot wall using a variety of technologies in the design as well as how we operate and maintain the walls to product fresh, non-gmo vegetables and herbs while using a small fraction of the water that would be otherwise used in an open ground plot. We have learned to build the walls whereby we can get the fresh vegetable sand herbs up to 150 people would need in a week, each week, from one vertical garden. We call them ‘My World In a Garden’, as you probably already know.
Our next gardens
In a previous update we let you know we are looking to build at least 6 more ‘My World In a Garden’ vertical gardens in Bergnek and since then we’ve also been asked to build walls in additional communities who are also being supplied with our menstrual kits from the Bergnek Community Projects, GirlStuff community business.
You CAN help and we NEED your help!
Your contributions make the difference
Can you make a new donation today or perhaps set up a monthly or quarterly recurring donation? Please take action today. The girls, women and children we serve are grateful for your support.
Take a Trip and Get involved
Another form of contributing: There are also opportunities for you to join us in Africa to work alongside these truly wonderful people in the Bergnek community. Take a look at the ‘My World In a Garden’ EcoTravel option.
We are grateful for your support. The women, girls and children of the My Arms Wide Open communities extend a warm smile and echo our gratitude and thanks.
We are growing again...
Since our last update in February we have begun to plant the next season of My World My Garden, Warren's Wall, at the Ray-CAM Cooperative Centre in Vancouver and had a great site visit from GlobalGiving at our My World In a Garden® wall, in Bergnek, South Africa as we close the growing season there.
As a result of your generous and continued support we've been able to maintain healthy and thriving gardens across the seasons. In Vancouver we planting again, as you will see from the picture and the Ray-CAM Community also named the wall. I'm deeply honored and grateful.
In the Bergnek community, we finished the season and are now working to update the wall and plant new ones, as we noted in our last update. The 'upgrade' to the existing wall as well as the addition of new walls, this will enable us to grow even more, as well as being more productive while conserving more water in our next growing cycle.
It's about Feeding Children and their Families
Over the past year over 200 families benefited from the gardens in Vancouver and Bergnek combined and we are looking to expand that dramatically over this coming year. Our goal is to turn the walls into an autonomous and sustainable community based business.
In addition to our activity in Vancouver and Bergnek, we are also working towards building a My World In a Garden® wall on the west side of Phoenix, Arizona to serve the community there.
With your support and the support of the organizations we partner with we will manifest new gardens in Canada, the United States and South Africa.
Help us to get other people involved in our Food Programs, which provide a direct benefit for the children and families in the communities the gardens are grown in. Forward our reports and ask friends and family if they would like to support the My World In a Garden program.
Can you make a new donation today or perhaps set up a monthly or quarterly recurring donation? Please consider it and take action today. The women and children at the Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and Bergnek are grateful for all of the support you have already given them.
Other ways of contributing: There are also opportunities for you to join us in Africa to build a garden with the community. Take a look at the EcoTravel link below for more information.
Thank you for your continued support of the women and children of the Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre and Bergnek Communities and the My Arms Wide Open programs.
Please share this update with people and organizations you are connected to.
Since our last update in November we're winding down the growing season in Africa as the end of summer approaches and we're preparing to re-plant in Vancouver as Spring approaches.
Through your generous and continued support and some sizable donations from local companies in Vancouver we've been able to maintain healthy and thriving gardens across the seasons. In Vancouver we are getting reading to plant again for the spring growing season, which seems to be coming a little late this year with a cold and snowy winter season coming to an end.
In Africa, in the Bergnek community we are finishing a very hot summer, which certainly presented it's own challenges with respect to water and how well the plants did in the heat. We are preparing the gardens for the winter and also looking to 'upgrade' the gardens in the spring (September) to adapt the walls to our new design used in the Vancouver gardens. This will enable to grow even more productively and conserve more water in our next growing cycle.
Over the past year over 200 families benefited from the gardens in Vancouver and Bergnek combined and as we mentioned in our last report we are looking to expand that dramatically over this coming year. With your support and the support of the organizations we partner with we will manifest new gardens in Canada, the United States and South Africa.
Help us to get other people involved in our Food Programs which provide a direct benefit for the children and families in the communites the gardens are grown in. Forward our reports and ask friends and family if they would like to support the My World In a Garden program.
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