Sandra poses proudly in front of the camera with the gigantic ube root, probably already imagining the delicious tart that will be made out of it. Harvest for this sweet purple yam seems to be in perfect timing as it will be served as a dessert for her birthday. Sandra and the twelve other children all helped to care for this plant and the rest of the garden. A reliable source of healthy food, a lesson in responsibility, and a form of therapy working in the outdoors: these are all important gifts our little Garden of Eden is providing to the kids in the orphanage.
The rest of the crops in the garden can fortunately be harvested more often than just special occasions. Seven papaya trees give the children fruit on a weekly basis. The ripe papaya is a sweet treat, but when still green, it can be cooked as a vegetable for stews. The Malunggay tree is another gem in the garden that also provides stew-worthy leafy greens that are bursting with nutrients. Kamote tops (leaves of a sweet potato variety) and okra are just some of the other vegetables the orphanage has started to cultivate and harvest.
The work around our budding garden is distributed among the children on weekends, though Tony – our Utility Man – handles the watering during the week while the kids are in school. For now, there is not much work to be done since the crops we have are quite low maintenance. Pulling out the weeds and turning the soil once in awhile constitutes most of our gardening activity for now. The fun part of it is harvesting the fruits from the trees. The boys take their turns in climbing the tall, slim papaya trees like cute little monkeys. Michael, 11, is known to be the Tarzan of the troupe as he is the fastest climber.
Before coming to Holy Trinity Orphanage, most of the children were in a temporary shelter in the middle of the city. It was a cramped, unhygienic place with absolutely no greenery around. Their environment was not at all conducive to healing. Being closer to nature and being in a more quiet place is definitely helping the children become more peaceful. We have seen tremendous improvement since they arrived last April 2015 in terms of moods and general behaviour.
We believe that making the children responsible of the food-giving plants in the garden, will not only grow their environmental awareness but also make them feel the satisfaction of caring for something over time and seeing the results in guise of blessings on a plate. Your gracious support has allowed us to get these children off the streets and allow them to take a breath of fresh air in our little Garden of Eden in the making.