We're getting more and more requests
We've been receiving more interest in our My World In a Garden - Sister Walls' program as other communities learn about the food production volume from our vertical gardens and as communities hear more about our GirlStuff program. It's no coincidence the two programs are connected.
What's the connection between GirlStuff with My World in a Garden?
When we first designed the program we realized that getting girls to come back to school was more than just providing them with the necessary menstrual supplies so taht they could stay in school all month, it also required us to find a solution for the food they needed to take home to their families each day and each week. As a result we connected the My World In a Garden program with the GirlStuff program.
Help us build more gardens
This coming spring in Bergnek we will be making a big change on the first Bergnek Community wall we installed in 2012. We will be moving to a 'pocket' system that gives us a greater yield from the vertical garden. You could be there with us!
There are a number of opportunities for you to help us build more My World in a Garden, Vertical Gardens. You can actually join us on a trip to and experience the magic and beauty of Africa yourself and we'd love to have you join us. You can get more information about taking the trip at: My World in a Garden.
You can make a donation to help us fund the purchase of the materials we need for to build each of the gardens.
You can forward this message to family and friends and ask them to help you support the women, girls, men and children of Bergnek as well
Whatever path you choose, we are grateful for your support.
The connection between food security and menstrual supplies
We highly recommend that you also visit our 'My Arms Wide Open - Pads4Girls' page to see how we combine the work we do at GirlStuff, which attracts girls back to school, and the food they grow in our 'My World in a Garden' vertical gardens, which together, helps to keep girls in school longer.
There are more young girls to help and YOUR Contributions and DONATIONS MAKE the DIFFERENCE
You can support the My Arms Wide Open, ‘My World In a Garden - Sister Walls’ project and community cooperative and make a meaningful difference in the lives of the women, girls and families we serve, by making a donation now.
Want to help on an ongoing basis? Set up a monthly recurring donation as well as sharing this report with your family and friends.
Please Donate Now!
We are grateful for your support. The women, men, girls and children of the My Arms Wide Open communities extend a warm smile and echo our gratitude for your support.
When you first hear about food insecurity in a community, the first thing you think about most often is to build a traditional garden. Then the community brings you back to reality to look around you and understand the true circumstance; they have the land, but not the water to irrigate it with. Back to the drawing board.
In 2010 our idea of building a vertical garden was manifested, when we built our first wall in the eastern cape province of South Africa, using a drip system that required only 10% of what would be required in a normal garden. As the garden grew and flourished we looked for ways to increase production and longevity of the vertical community My World in a Garden gardens. Our next iteration moved from individual containers made from 2 liter pop bottles to building the wall as a huge pocket filled with good clean pesticide free soils. This is our current standard.
Whose being fed
Our walls in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and Bergnek, Limpopo, South Africa primarily feed the children in each community. However, there is direct participation from every level within the community including teenagers, parents, and the elderly in particular. Food is grown and harvested for immediate as well as winter use and we're providing fresh vegetables for up to 150 children each week.
Who needs more
Bergnek and other communities need the gardens. As the My World In a Garden vertical community gardens have grow they've attracted attention from other communities. We still need an additional 6 walls in Bergnek alone and have outstanding requests from 5 other communities so far.
A New Season
The 2015/2016 seasons are well underway in Canada and will begin again in September in South Africa.
Your Contributions and Donations DO make the Difference
You can support the My Arms Wide Open, My World In a Garden project and make a meaningful difference in the lives of the girls, women and children that we serve, by making a donation now or setting up a monthly recurring donation as well as sharing this report with your family and friends.
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.
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.
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.
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