I am so excited to share that the healing garden project has finally started! Last year was dedicated to brainstorming, grant writing, and designing but we are now overjoyed to have begun construction. (If you are confused about what this project is you can check out my first post regarding it here.) Ground was broken for the garden in the middle of January and the first step was to level the area. My Refuge House sits on the side of mountain, giving us a beautiful view of the ocean, but also providing a sloped landscape. Thankfully, we were able to hire a few strong men to create a small wall around two edges of the garden and then hire five more to fill it in with dirt.
When we first started talking about leveling the ground I always imagined there would be a wheel barrel or other device involved to make the job easier and faster. The reality was much different than my imaginings. The way this huge hole was filled was with one or two cloth sacks at a time. MRH has a huge dirt mound (which resembles pure gravel) due to recent construction, and the men would shovel the dirt (aka rocks) into the sacks and then carry them to the crater, filling it up one morsel at a time. I could not believe that such a form of transportation was still used. Because of this intense manual labor the project ended up taking twice as long and costing twice as much money, but it has finally been finished (thank you Jesus!) and we now have a flat, sturdy foundation on which to create a beautiful and therapeutic space – though it is not much to look at yet.
Though we hired men for the majority of the labor, we also wanted to get the girls involved during this stage to help instill commitment, interest, and excitement in the project. They were pleased to help contribute and we all met before seven on a Saturday morning to work before the sun became too aggressive. I was quickly inspired and humbled by their work ethic and stamina. Some of these girls are literally a third of my size and yet outperformed me to an embarrassing degree. Wearing flip-flops and t-shirts tied around their faces (to protect them from sun and dust) they dug dirt, shoveled it into the old woven bags and either carried a bag in each hand or placed one on their head and another in their hand. They walked uphill and deposited the bags into the vast hole, contributing little by little. They worked until breakfast, took a break, and then work again until the sun became too hot. They are my heroes and my goal is to one day be as strong as them, in more ways than one.
We have also contracted the local carpenter for several pieces of furniture needed and are planning for the next phase of the garden plan: laying a grass ground covering and organizing a Garden Day for the shelter. The Garden Day will be held at the end of February and will involve all of the girls and staff. Activities for the day will include: painting birdhouse, washing and cleaning flower pots, making wind chimes, and constructing raised beds. It is an opportunity for everyone to be involved, no matter skill level, and build personal dedication to the healing garden. This will be the first of two Garden Days; the other will be towards the end of the project to finish planting, creating stepping stones, and arranging the final layout for the garden design.
It is all very exciting! Stay tuned for more updates and if you would like to contribute to this project in any way please let me know.
Much love everyone!