Contributed by Tiwonge Nkosi

From December 2014 to January 2016, Kusamala worked with the staff at the Bwaila Maternity hospital in Area 25 in Lilongwe to develop a hospital garden to provide increased diet diversity for patients and staff. With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through University of North Carolina project (UNC), the hospital built a maternity waiting home for expectant mothers. With the guidance of Kusamala’s consultants, hospital staff learned to build a garden to provide mothers and hospital employees with a diverse and nutritious diet.

Due to the project’s success, UNC has partnered with Kusamala again to establish a permaculture garden at the new Maternity Waiting Village in Kasungu.

To kick-off the 10-month project, Kusamala’s lead trainer, Luwayo Biswick, together with consultant-in-training, Tiwonge Nkosi, conducted a 5-day Introduction to Permaculture course March 30-31 and April 5-7, for 30 members of staff working at the hospital including nurses, coordinators, cleaners, ground workers and hospital attendants.

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“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them,” goes an old saying. This is why our trainings incorporate many hands-on activities to engage participants, including making different kinds of planting beds, digging swales for water harvesting, digging fruit tree pits, making compost, planting seeds and many more. These practical lessons help participants more fully understand what they have learned in the classroom setting as they learn by doing.

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Swale on contour

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Making compost.

In their own words, the participants said permaculture principals and approaches used are simple and easy to follow. Many said the course will help them save money because they will no longer spend money on fertilizer and pesticides, and will instead employ natural ways of dealing with pests and will make compost and add manure to the soils of their home gardens and staple fields.

Starting in May, our consultants will be conducting monthly site visits to the hospital to oversee the implementation of all the activities in the garden.