Nurturing the spirit
- Gardening @ CAR

Just when the pandemic hit Peru, the girls of the residential care center in Ayacucho, were looking forward to moving to their new building, a bigger house next door, with a big garden. In the old building they had some plants on the roof, but the new garden would give them a chance to really discover gardening. The move was postponed some months, but in May they could finally pack their bags. Initially, gardening was meant to be a therapeutic activity, for the girls to stay occupied, as everyone went into lockdown and education was online. Living together with 15 teenagers, everyone had to find his personal space. Many girls found their safe place in the garden, remembering how they grew up on the countryside or visiting their grandparents, they connected the garden to good memories, distracting them from other traumatic experiences. All the girls at the center are placed, by a judge or social services, because of sexual or domestic violence at home. None of the girls had much experience with gardening, but with their savings or with a small loan from the center they started buying their seeds to get planted. The agreement was, in case of a loan, they would give 40% of the vegetables to the kitchen. With the first harvest of their salads, beetroot, chard, carrots, mint and onions, the girls became enthusiastic and inspired each other. Some girls gave some of the harvest to their families, others started selling the vegetables to the DIA staff and saved the small profit they made. Now, far from being a therapeutic activity only, the girls start learning more about costs-benefits and set up their business plan. They grow in their entrepreneurial skills, self-esteem, the belief in their abilities and their perseverance. Recently a competition was organized for the best maintained parcel. The two winners could visit the Montefino farm, a very welcome trip outside of the city.


The story of Rosa
A teenager dealing with violence