In October, 2010 the World Forum Foundation invited members of the Afghan staff of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) to attend their Nature Action Forum at the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, NE so that they would have significant international resources to help them with their project. The Asia Foundation generously sponsored the trip for two of AIL’s administrative and teaching staff to take advantage of this incredible opportunity.
During the forum, AIL set these project goals for the next 20 years:
- People in Afghanistan will be aware of the importance of their connection with nature and will take action to ensure that Afghanistan has a sustainable natural environment.
- People in Afghanistan will have identified and defined uses of native medicinal herbs so that they are sustainable and are appropriately used throughout the population for their natural health benefits.
In order to achieve these goals, an interdisciplinary grade level curriculum is planned to be developed to teach involved students about the history of the use of plant species for food and in the treatment of injuries or illness. They need to learn about the way things were done in Afghanistan before the wars; how people were able to live off the earth, still respecting every living thing as a useful part of a healthy life.
Next, the students will learn the science behind plant growth and what is involved in planting, maintaining, and prospering a healthy garden. How do you know which soil a plant needs? Where does it get its nutrients? Why does it need sun? These lessons would focus on the actual scientific basis for a healthy, vegetated environment.
The next step will be the hands-on experiential learning of planting seeds or transplanting plants, feeding them with sun, nutrients, and water, watching them grow and develop, and then reaping the natural beauty and fruits of their labors. Developing an emotional connection with the vegetation by fostering growth and learning how plants can benefit their lives, students will grow respect for their natural environment in ways that all the reading in the world cannot do. The expectation is that they will have opportunities to share their knowledge with their families by bringing home flowers, medicinal parts of plants, and vegetables. Through the collaborative partners that were introduced at the Nature Action Forum, the Bringing Green to Afghanistan project is one step closer to reality.