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Cultivating Hope

From Sami, the Gardener

Hi there everyone, this is Sami the Gardener. As we are now in the last month of the year I wanted to share a little of my experience this year with you.

The Hope Garden is nearly a year old. It has been a year both of hard work and great blessing. The Garden is always in front of my eyes. I see it wherever I go. I see it in my dreams. The Garden is a beautiful part of my life, all the more so because I live in a tent. This is my portion of heaven on this earth.

The Garden is like a child to me, that daily needs my embrace, my fullest attention and my love. The Garden needs to hear me say "Good morning" and to lay its mattress for sleep every night. It needs encouraging words during the heat of the summer, and protective words in the cold of the winter.

I hold The Garden very close to me, like a baby in its parents’ arms. And yet The Garden holds me, it is very tender to me and keeps me safe and loved.

My life as the gardener has changed, it has become calm, peaceful, even tranquil, far away from the depression and frustration I experienced before working here. The direct contact with nature, the seasons, with Oscar the dog who bathes in the fountain, and Charlie the cat who fights with every other cat over his territory, with the insects and the birds that are beginning to come, have healed me. I am relaxed, I smoke much less and laugh much more. The Garden helps me to calm my thoughts, to not overthink and worry, I know that the power in creation is touching my soul.

The hues of green make me feel that I live in heaven, on the highest cloud imaginable. It is my biggest, my best joy to unlock the gate every day, to be in the very heart of paradise both day and night, to see the beauty of every plant unfold in its time. It is a wonder to me every day. I will never ever become tired of gazing at it, it is the best, most beautiful place in the world.

The Garden is an exceptional place for children. It is cozy, secure, like a womb, peaceful. I watch the children and see how they relax, how they let go and feel safe . It is the perfect place for our children who were taken captive by ISIS. When they come here their vision and perspective changes. They encounter the spectacular, they pick the herbs and rub them between their hands, and inhale the fragrance. I stand quietly but watch their faces change, notice how their bodies become relaxed as they breathe fresh air, and smell the fragrance.

More and more teachers are bringing their students here. Noori was the first to bring his patients after a session. The kids began to spread the word about The Garden and now they all come. Some of them make comments such as:

“We wait for our class in order to come to The Garden”,

“We love to watch the way that you know the plants as if they are your children”

“I love this plant so I came to see how it's growing."

One told me, he was ten years old “I have some experience with farming, I have information that could help you. Please let me work alongside you because when I am older I want to be a farmer just like you."

One said “I feel joyous in The Garden, it gives me unspeakable feelings and emotions."

I watch the kids sit on the two rocking chairs, will you please buy more, they are a great idea, and they rock and relax. They become quiet and still as their minds and bodies become refreshed.

It has been an amazing experience to give our products away to our students and to people in the camp. It has given me such pride to know that we are giving the very best produce to those in desperate need. There is nothing like the feeling I have when I take our Pair of Shoes ( the slang term for our tiny Kia which is about the size of a pair of shoes ) and load it up with cucumbers, peppers, onions, radishes, whatever we have and to deliver bags to those who have nothing. It is the best education for our students, to teach them how to farm and how to think of others and take care of the needy in the community.

However you enter the Hope Garden, you leave with a smile on your face and in your heart.

Thank you for helping us to create this miracle, this heaven on earth.

"And the Lord God planted a garden eastwards in Eden...and out of the ground made the Lord God every tree to grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food." Genesis 2


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