Written by: Admin_SheEvo
My journey with gardening started in 2008. In 2003, I was a domestic helper in Linasia. On the 9th of September 2003, I returned home and found my young son on the floor bleeding from his head. I rushed him to the hospital. He had been hit by a car, and his injuries were extensive. He lay in a coma for three months. The Doctors said I had to make a decision whether he should be given medication which could wake him up, but if it didn’t work, he would die. This was the hardest decision of my life.
We were so fortunate, and my son woke up, but he was unable to walk, see or speak. He recovered very slowly and had to stay in hospital. He had eye surgery, which enabled him to see again. Slowly, he learned to walk and speak again. That Christmas, I requested that he leave the hospital to eat Christmas lunch with us. All was well.
In 2004, he had to return to the hospital, and the doctors explained that he had suffered brain damage and that he would never develop like a normal child.
He would not be able to do the things that he used to do anymore. When the accident happened, he was 8 years old. His brain would not develop beyond the age of an 8-year-old.
I needed to look for special schools and to take care of him. So, my journey of gardening began because I was the breadwinner of the family and I had to feed my son and daughter. I started growing vegetables in our own backyard. It was small, but eventually, I got a dumping site where I started planting. People began to see how nice my spinach was, how fresh and good everything I was growing in my garden. People started coming to buy from me. This is what I did to provide for my children, and I am still doing this today.
My son went to a special needs school, which only went to Level 5. With his brain injury, he was not able to work. I had to take care of him 24/7 because his decision-making processes are that of an 8-year-old. He began to work with me in the garden. With planting, that’s where he started to practice the skills that we use every day. Decision making. Is this the right time to plant this plant? How to take care of the plant. That brought us both so much joy because we could do something together. At the same time, we were selling, and so together, we were providing for the family. My son was so happy, and it filled my heart with happiness too. Today, we are still gardening and selling our produce.
What I would like for our community to learn is that disability is not a matter of witchcraft or a curse. Disability is something that is there. There are children that are born with it; accidents and trauma cause it. It is not something that is man-made. Our communities don’t understand this and still treat disabled people as though they are witches or something is wrong with that family. I want people to know that disabled people are still capable human beings. Even if they cannot do the same things as others of the same age, there is something they can do and perfect like my son is doing. He is planting and perfecting it, and half of our community is being fed from that garden.
I would like to help young people with employment as in Orange Farm, there are few job opportunities. If my garden grows, I could employ other young people to come and plant, to provide for their families and earn a living. This is my story. This is my courage. Gardening gives me peace and comfort. I love seeing my plants grow. It gives me hope of something new, something big and of something huge to come.