Two of the bigger challenges for families and girls living in rural areas of South Africa’s Limpopo, Northern and Eastern Cape provinces, are food security and basic menstrual supplies.
Food security is a challenge the world over in both developing and developed countries. The challenge is not that we cannot provide food. “We” can provide instant gratification, but this is a short term and band-aid solution. The challenge is being able to provide sustainable food sources. The solution is to transfer skills and to develop sustainable locally based food sources. This is the intent and underlying objective of the My Arms Wide Open, My World My Garden Cause through the establishment and management of My World In A Garden® vertical food walls.
Our goal is to construct 15 Vertical Food Wall Systems in communities by the end of 2015 with a number of them ‘sistered’ in cities and towns in the US, Canada and South Africa.
In the initial project My Arms Wide Open is proposing to build two identical live walls as food walls that will use both vegetable and fruit plants in place of the regular plants used in the original design. One will be located in the Town of Cradock, Eastern Cape, South Africa.
The other, a mirror of the Cradock live food wall will be located in the Downtown Eastside, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada at the Ray-Cam Community Centre. The Vancouver living vertical garden, like its sister wall in South Africa, will bring focus to community, food security and family.
During the spring and summer growing seasons, the garden will generate multiple harvests as well as a limited number of harvests in the autumn and winter seasons. The fresh vegetables harvested will support both Ray-Cam’s ongoing food program and in South Africa they food will support a children’s HIV/Aids hospice and a local daycare centre. A portion of each harvest during the growing season will be bottled or frozen to augment fall and winter food requirements.
During the fall and winter, the garden’s bottles not being used for vegetables and fruits will be replaced with suitable plants to maintain the wall during the off-season and allow for preparation of new vegetable seedlings for the spring. In addition to the fruit plants grown in the bottles, we intend to plant several fruit trees around the wall to support the surrounding community’s need for fresh fruit.
The fundamental emphasis, however, is on the educational opportunities that the garden and its supporting activities offer for the children and youth of both the Vancouver Downtown Eastside and Cradock, Eastern Cape, South Africa.
The project will create collaboration and a sense of ownership across the community – ownership by the children who will work in the garden; their families, as a result of their own children’s involvement; and other families in the community who will benefit from the garden’s harvests. The intention is for this project to inspire other children and youth within the community to take similar steps and spawn additional Vertical Food Wall Systems across the community. For more information on this project please visit the My Arms Wide Open site and read the blog postings.
Education Equity: creating a level playing field for girls in Africa
In struggling and disadvantaged communities across the globe, youth face a number of significant challenges. Simply being able to find gainful employment is but one of those as they struggle to differentiate themselves to find and land jobs. The young girls and women in these communities face a number of additional challenges that put them at an even greater disadvantage.
The first, in a number of cases, is ridicule and bullying as a result of having their period start at an inopportune moment while at school and they are unprepared. This can and has resulted in girls not returning to school after the experience, an experience that should be about celebrating the fact that they are becoming young women, not feeling embarrassed and having their self-esteem severely damaged. They are not just caught off guard; their circumstance is such that they just cannot afford basic menstrual products to support themselves. In a significant number of cases their families can't even afford to provide more than one meal a day and for some a meal only every two days. The result of this is that these young girls and women then end up staying home for the duration of their period, missing a significant amount of school. They underachieve and cannot perform to the real level of their abilities because they just can't be in school for a week each month.
At My Arms Wide Open, we work alongside community to identify and develop opportunities that give mothers, youth and children the power to choose how they can support and build communities. In the process we partner with organizations like Lunapads and their Pads4Girls program to improve the circumstance of young woman so that they have the opportunity to be all they can be and to thrive.
To support 1,500 girls and young women in the communities of Bergnek, Limpopo and Cradock, Eastern Cape in South Africa to stay in School.
Give Girls the POWER to Choose and help level the playing field. To support the Pads4Girls program in Bergnek and Cradock in South Africa, please visit our site to make a donation. To read more on this story please visit the My Arms Wide Open Foundation Blog.
Visit the My Arms Wide Open site to get involved and support the communities in the Vancouver DTES, Cradock, Eastern Cape and Bergnek, Limpopo.
The My Arms Wide Open® Charitable Foundation was established to provide support and collaboration with mothers, children and youth in South Africa, enabling them to build sustainable communities and responsible businesses. With stronger families, communities emerge as a solid foundation for society.
Manzimvula as a consulting practice and a Certified B Corporation specializes in community engagement, sustainability and corporate responsibility, providing support and resources to My arms Wide Open. To stimulate ingenuity and create growth, we work alongside our clients, guiding them through our Purposeful Path to Sustainability Program™ utilizing our Integrative Strategy Approach™ to help them engage their organizational communities at a deeper level to understand mindset and create alignment with core strategies and principles.