Last week the construction team began working on a new agriculture initiative to help improve nutrition in the Yasawas and to provide an alternative source of income for the community. We’ve been working under the guidance of Esava, our new environmental consultant, who started by showing us how to build a new base vegetable garden, Fijian style. We quickly learnt how to plant and care for various vegetables.
The base garden was such a success that in the following week the construction team was given the assignment of improving and creating vegetable gardens at Ratu Meli Memorial School. Recent reports from the Fijian Ministry of Health have indicated that a high proportion of the pupils at RMMS are malnourished. We are particularly concerned about the diet of the 60 boarders living on the school compound and by empowering them to grow their own vegetables we are hoping to facilitate a balanced and healthy diet.
As well as helping to build the vegetable gardens it is also important to educate the teachers and pupils on nutrition and how to look after their gardens. The construction team had the task of running a nutrition lesson for classes 6, 7, and 8. As part of the lesson we helped the classes to set up their own vegetable gardens, as well as teaching them the foundations of achieving a healthy and balanced diet.
Having never taught before, apprehensive doesn’t quiet cover it, but with a guiding hand from the GVI staff and my team mates, Amanda and Lindsay, we were able to put together some comprehensive lesson plans that complemented the current curriculum. The lessons began with Amanda introducing the topic and Lindsay enthusiastically asking the kids what they already knew about healthy eating. Esava then elabourated on how to maintain a balanced diet, while I got the easy bit of just getting the kids out to the gardens. We were impressed by how much the children knew already and they were keen to get involved in building their new vegetable garden. Together we dug over plots, weeded and tilled the soil, then planted cabbages and cucumbers.
This week we have made a successful start to our new agriculture initiative at RMMS but there is still a lot of work to do. We shall continue building vegetable gardens for all the classes at RMMS and in our awareness lessons next week we are hoping to cover pest control and expand on what’s growing in the gardens.
Julian (Construction Volunteer)