Last week we received a call from a family we had met earlier during the project planning. They had just returned from a trip to their family farms in Meerut with 3 bags of soil and a total of 18 pots. Mr. Afaq Ahmed called to update us on the progress and invited us home.
It was one day before Baqr’Eid when we went to meet our park and saplings. As a common yearly practice, which we forgot about, all the kids had taken their goats for grazing in the park. The park was completely barren with dry soil. Bushes, small trees, our vegetable saplings and even the branches on trees till 6-7 feet had been eaten away. A tough lesson we learnt about community projects that we need to be careful about the risks and engage more frequently with our stakeholders.
There was one green fighter, Mr. Tahir, who sat quietly on a walking path digging with a stick and planting Aloe Vera. We tried conversing with him but he chose to not acknowledge us. We later found that the boys at the park bully him and that was probably the reason he didn’t interact much. Also he too was upset about the grazing.
On a positive note, one of our chilli saplings in the park survived plus the tomato plant is healthy in Mr. Khan’s balcony. Mr. Afaq & Mrs. Rizwana’s family including their daughter, sister in law and their little boy, all looked excited to start their kitchen garden. The little one had taken up the responsibility of watering all those pots already. We offered them coriander, methi / fenugreek and amaranthus / cholai seeds to start with. Since they had also bought two goats for their family, they’ve collecting goat poo for fertilizing their new pots. How cool is that!
Now all we need is some vermicompost and cocopeat from Hauz Rani Nusery and they are set to go!