THE GREEN GARDEN PROJECT WITH LÉA, VOLUNTEER

“I met the families as soon as I arrived and I was instantly moved by their kindness, their generosity and particularly their strength. The work that they provide is very physical and these women often take care of their gardens alone. They are very independent, motivated by the project and always excited when we come to see them. Whether it is to create natural shampoos, remedies against dengue or other diseases, these families are always surprising and rich in knowledge. I visit them minimum twice a week with the translator and it is always a pleasure. We often get a very warm welcome! They appreciate talking to the translator as he has been following the project for a long time and is also very implicated. They are also very happy to show us the results of their labor, we do not hesitate to congratulate them, and we sometimes leave with free vegetables that they offer us to thank us. I sometimes go alone from time to time to see if everything is okay and to bring them what they need. In those circumstances, communication is a little more difficult but the laughs and are always around! The language barrier is a difficulty in this project as we are constantly in the field, so I try little by little to remember names of vegetables, numbers and important words in Khmer. These regular visits enable them to feel supported and to keep their motivation.
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Every Wednesday, we have a weekly meeting where we plan the shipments of the following week. We also take the chance to pay the women for the shipments of the previous week. These meetings are attended by school director and the school cook in order for her to elaborate the menus. For the women, this meeting is essential as it is the chance for them to collect the fruit of their labor. They can share their experiences, their successes, their fears, it is really beautiful to see them all come together. Each one of them has their own story and their personality but they all have the same motivation and energy that they express differently.
At this time, families produce all kinds of vegetables: wax gourdes, luffa gourds, pumpkins, eggplant, onions, corn, morning glory, cucumber, chilies, spinach, beans, etc. The rain season does not scare them, on the contrary they are very motivated to produce a lot of vegetables for the new academic year starting in October! This summer, some of them even saw their vegetable garden double size. They realise that this agriculture activity enables them to increase their income and improve their situation. It is a big victory for Bayon that the women can improve the quality of living of their families through this project.
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Our objective is now to help the families to have a steady production in order to have a steady income and help with the management of the menus for the canteen. We are trying to give them more and more non hybrid seeds that they can use again so that they can be more independente and we can more easily diversify production.
We are also hoping to welcome new families in the project. Once they will be chosen, it is important to explain the rotations they need to set up in order to keep the production stable from the start. With new families, brings along more vegetables: a partnership with a producers shop is being created. It is already ready to accept the surplus of vegetables that the families cannot sell to the canteen.
This project not only helps the students have a good nutrition, but also and more imortantly helps the families emancipate and gain in confidence through their responsabilities that we give them. Participating in the development of the Green Garden Project is a beautiful mission, human, varied and rewarding!”

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, 17 September 2019