As published in the Border Watch.
Written by Brittany Denton.
Photo: Green Thumbs: Elderly refugees in the Senior Lifeskills Group meet at the Migrant Resource Centre every Wednesday to tend to their vegetable garden.
Resource centre initiative provides refugees with learning opportunities
Elderly refugees at Mount Gambier’s Migrant Resource Centre unveiled a flourishing vegetable garden at the premises yesterday.
Members of the Senior Lifeskills Group have planned and planted the garden over the past few months.
Centre manager Anelia Blackie said the project was an opportunity for the group of migrants – who are from Burma and the Congo – to socialise, learn about irrigation and horticulture and improve their English vocabulary.
“A few months ago the seniors group asked us if they could make a garden,” Ms Blackie said at yesterday’s opening event.
“It was a huge project and would not have been possible without support from the Stand Like Stone Foundation and One Forty One Plantations.
“We applied for grants from both organisations and they have never let us down – we have received a number of grants this year.
“In the process, the migrants learnt how to plan a garden – they wanted to get in and plant so we showed them how to draw up plans and measure.
“They put the tape measures aside and used their hands and arms, but that seems to be working.
“They planted vegetables of their own choice and we look forward to harvesting – they can teach us how they make their meals.”
Stand Like Stone patron Sue Charlton AM said the organisation was “proud” to be associated with the project.
“It is so lovely to see our money growing and I commend you all – the garden looks beautiful,” she said.
“We are delighted to be involved with such a dynamic project that has such potential to grow.”
Devoted gardener Bweh Shar was honoured with a framed copy of her photograph printed in Tuesday’s edition of The Border Watch.
“Before we installed the irrigation, she was here at 9am every morning to water the garden,” Ms Blackie said.
“She is here every single day tending to the garden, so we thought we should give her a gift for her dedication.”
Karenni migrant Tu Lar Paw – who arrived in Mount Gambier with her family in 2013 – thanked everyone who supported the program.
“Because of the garden program our senior group is here every Wednesday,” she said.
“All of us are in old age and men are very few.
“Thank you to all of the donors and to everyone who takes care of us and helped us do this.”