Contributed by Tiwonge Nkosi
One big idea can change the world and everyone agrees that a healthy life is good. It reduces stress, reduces the probability of being attacked by different diseases and above all, it calms your mind and you live a happy life thereby allowing you to do more with it. This is why Dr. Jeffrey Wilkinson, working with the University of North Carolina’s Project in Malawi, proposed developing a permaculture project at the Bwaila Maternity Hospital in Area 25 in Lilongwe, where he was working. With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 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. The skills the mothers gained will help them develop home gardens when they return to their own homes, thereby improving their everyday lives.
This one-year project ran from December 2014 to January 2016. During that period, Kusamala’s consultants made monthly visits to the maternity waiting home to provide trainings in permaculture with the nurses and home craft nutrition workers who then shared the messages with the expecting mothers.
These nurses have now acquired skills in water management and harvesting techniques, permaculture garden establishment and management, natural pest and disease control, tree nursery establishment and management and crop rotation just to mention a few.
Mothers who wait for delivery at the hospital have benefited a lot from the project. For example, there was a case 0f a mother who was anemic; she was advised to take tea made from avocado leaves three times a day. Within a week, her hemoglobin levels improved and she was feeling better.
Many different fruit trees were planted around the waiting home including banana, pawpaw, oranges, avocado as well as vegetables such as mustard, amaranth, lemongrass, tomatoes, chard, roselle, and mint.
Kusamala has been asked to help establish another garden for a hospital in Kasungu, with preliminary work already begun.