Through a community-based gardening program, Holt’s partner agency in Thailand provides vulnerable children and families an outlet for enhancing their self-esteem and providing for their community.
Since 1998, Holt Sahathai Foundation, in an effort to strengthen families and help children thrive, has provided a community-based gardening program in the Tha Sala district of southern Thailand. The program provides learning and socialization opportunities for vulnerable children and their families in order to enhance self-esteem and help promote community camaraderie. “If a community is strong and healthy, then the children of that community have a much higher chance of healthy development both physically and mentally,” Thoa Bui, Holt’s senior executive for SE Asia programs, says. “This is what the community garden helps to address.”
The program serves approximately 1,300 children and families annually. Each member receives lessons on growing plants and farm management. “At the center, families also learn how to plant vegetables in their own garden,” Thoa says. “This allows them a possible means to supplement their grocery list and save money.”
In an outreach effort, HSF also partners with the district’s schools — allowing teachers to bring their classes to the garden and teach them about how to plant and grow vegetables and about the benefits of eating a healthy diet.
When harvest time arrives, the vegetables are distributed to families and sold at market. The children also assist with the sales. The funds are then pooled together and given to HSF to benefit more families and children. “Some of the funds earned from selling the vegetables could possibly be given to a family in need in the Tha Sala district,” Thoa says, “but really the gardening project is more about community strengthening and teaching the families in this district how to be self-sufficient, not for a means of income.”
Activity stations set up around the garden allow children to participate in enrichment activities. “While on these courses, kids are taught life lessons and how to engage in healthy activities,” says Thoa.
“Without HSF and this community program, these children wouldn’t have these enrichment activities,” Thoa says. “At the Tha Sala center, the children and their parents are able to make friends, develop confidence, learn healthy activities and provide for their families.”
Ashli Keyser | Staff Writer