It was dusk of 12 September at the Green Warrior Permaculture Field School when the boys finally ended their work for the week. These guys are the skilled and hardworking individuals that Permaculture Aid veteran, Steve Cran had employed since he started this project early this year. It was truly overwhelming to see their happy faces receiving their meagre wages for the whole week with the rate of P250.00/day (less than $7 US).
This project has become sustainable through kind donations from the generous people of Australia in response to the after-effects of Typhoon Yolanda. Personally, being one of the counterparts to this project, my heart was touched when one of them said “Thank you Auntie, our families have escaped poverty since we worked here, a big help.” Their poverty situation was made worse by the wrath of the typhoon, with damaged plantations and smashed houses.
My feelings were indescribable at that moment because my memories went back through my experience when I was working in one of the Western Countries, roughly over a year ago now. There was always heaps of food left over that are being thrown away into the bin because the food is abundant and they don’t run out of supplies. What a waste! Wealthy countries cannot feel it. However, in an impoverished place like ours, children could have barely eat fresh fish and nutritious food that their body needs for proper growth and development. I can hardly believe this is happening here now, because during my childhood we have plenty of freshwater shrimps, fishes and even snails that are really nutritious local delicacy when cooked with vegetables and coconut milk…hmmm…yummy! Life was beautiful then. Looking back through the old times, what is here today is truly a picture of abusive practices to the land and less caring attitude of people to the environment and resources. Lands are not properly tilled and cared for. But, it is not yet too late to do something and start reconciling with nature. Practicing Permaculture is a way of bringing back the natural habitat of both land and sea where we get much of our food. It is one of the best solutions that I have seen to be less costly to help people become self- sufficient, live a sustainable and healthier life.
Here at the Green Warrior Field School both the local people and the volunteers learnt many things from each other in a Permaculture way. One significant experience is learning and exchanging languages to meet the maximum result of common understanding while doing the garden and a lot more. Permaculture Aid workers have inspired the mentality of the children and adults, at the same time, become self-reliant, cooperative and to value the word TEAM (“Together Everyone Accomplishes More”) in upholding oneness and solidarity thus, making them more resilient. No room for competition, but helpfulness, which encourages self-worth. It is a nice feeling to actually see how local people appreciate the benefit of teamwork and vice versa.
This project has been self-sustaining despite of twists and turns from the beginning. Perhaps it is a calling? It has been a rare experience for me to have been involved in this noble cause for almost eight months now. Every day is a chance to discover and learn new things from the field. I have felt each struggles of every volunteer from the day they arrived until they are completely adaptive to the general situation of volunteering. Their experience of loneliness and homesickness made them vulnerable and drained out their energies. But despite of these, most persevere and sustain themselves with so much enthusiasm.
Today, we have Ruby Wells and Sacha Healey, a new volunteer from New Zealand, helping in the infrastructures and maintenance of the school’s site and vegetable garden in preparation for the PAC this October. One structure has been completely finished, a composting toilet. There are still necessary structures to be built like the shower units and the kitchen furnishings which have been started last week. The farm field school is all set now for the PAC, Permaculture Aid Certificate course, we are on the Green Light! Green Warrior can win!
These developments were made possible from the donors like Eric Wei, Sacha Van Damme, Steve Grist, Uncle Bob, David Holmgren and Glenn McGrath as well as a few shy ones that wont be named. As Steve’s local counterpart, I wish to thank all the donors and all volunteers and students who have given their time and hard work in helping this project into a reality. All of you, are part of this endeavour and you are all welcome to see the progress if you want to come for a visit. I thank you for your kind support which helps six families survive on the poverty line this year, Thank you so much on their behalf. The success of this project started from your generosity and will continue to grow and help suffering people here in Mablad and the neighbouring communities with a good legacy to remember!
Last 18 August, Steve left the farm to raise funds and campaigns for his upcoming course. It was sunny! What a beautiful day to leave… I thought, being positive of him leaving behind GW field school. Ruby, Sacha and I together were responsible to run and keep the farm in tune until he returns. Undoubting, my mind did not wander on how are we going to continue when we are basically on a zero financial assets? It seems there was an inner voice saying “Be still”, Ooh what a great relief! It was a big challenge for him I believed, to pursue his good intention to help through this aid work without enough capacity to finance his plans and objectives. But miracles happened everyday, it was not long enough when he broke out the silence with some good news that we have kind hearted people who wants to donate wholeheartedly for the project. Now, we are more inspired to kick through and keep going with not less than ten students to join next month. Nature will provide. To Steve, thank you for the efforts done. You Are A Winner!