Garden of Eden by Val and Derek
Well, Children’s Paradise School is closed for the first day of the holiday s today but we are going in as usual to try to make a garden area for the children at the back of the school playground.
GVI purchased and donated a number of plants which we managed – with some difficulty – to get to the school yesterday on the school mini bus. Earlier in the week I prodded the raised area where we intend to make the garden and found that it was about 90% stone and rubble – not at all like that loamy soil that parts like flour when they stick a spade in it on those TV gardening programs. I casually asked if they might have a garden sieve just to see what reaction I got. It was the expected reaction. So could they get something like chicken wire I asked next. And spades? Well the Nepalis don’t actually use spades we were told, only short handled hacking tools. But we could have 3 of them! Great!
At this point I was beginning to think that maybe constructing a chicken coup would be a better idea. The children could see a bit of wildlife while they were playing, be taught a bit about where eggs come from, and best of all, they could have (and I could have) a boiled egg for breakfast every day. Mind you – 28 or so children – I started to ponder how many chickens I would need to provide each of them, and me, with an egg every day. And would fights start when someone didn’t get an egg. And would they be brown eggs or white eggs and what do chickens feed on, and who would feed them……..So it was back to Plan A, a garden with plants.
Luckily Val and I have packed our gardening clothes and a pair of wellies each in our luggage – NOT ! Flip flops were the next best thing. And flip flops and my swimming shorts (not speedos you will be extremely pleased to hear) seemed like as good an outfit that any gardener could desire.
So, back to the garden making. We tried out one or two ideas with the chicken wire, including stretching it across an old car trye to make a garden sieve. But in the end it proved best to have one person hold each end of the wire , heap the “soil” onto it, and wiggle it about to get the soil through and then just heap the stones away.
I cannot tell you how many bricks we uncovered, at least enough to build a small house. OK, maybe I exaggerate, but maybe a small brick built chicken coup. And we filled a number of old rice sacks with stones. Very thirsty work in the heat out here.
Whilst myself, another volunteer and Sandeep (the principles husband) sweated sieving soil, Val and new staff member Adele were scrubbing plants pots to put at the front of the school, re-potting other plants and washing the back wall which has a delightful painting on it.
And bit by bit, the rubble was separated from the soil and the bags of stones piled up and we levelled off the ground and, after stopping for a lunch break (more dal bhat cooked by Bunty and also buffalo meat!!), we were ready to decide where we wanted to put the plants. All in all a hard day’s work but looked good when finished – when we go back to the school Monday week after the holiday s we hope they will all still be alive and survived the Nepali heat and found some nutrient in the soil. Not sure if the children at the Paradise school will think it is the Garden of Eden but you never know.
By Derek and Val Spicer – 4wk Healthcare volunteers
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