Monday, January 28, 2013

The spirit of volunteerism

I was a volunteer at the Sharing Gardens in Monroe, Oregon and I am a friend of the lovely originators (Chris and Llyn) of the garden there. When I told them I would be going to the Philippines they asked if I would visit Rey their friend in Davao who had been inspired by them after reading their sharing garden blog. They were communicating with Rey by email and had also sent him seeds for planting in the garden he has established in Bread Homes. They had shared an encouraging email Rey had sent of his gardening projects while I had stayed with them for a weekend visit. I told Chris and Llyn I would be glad to visit Rey and I got his contact information and emailed him when I got to Cagayan de Oro and asked him about visiting. Rey responded quickly about his excitement at my visit and so I was able to travel to see him about two weeks later. 

I arrived at Davao early in the morning after a winding and bouncy ride through the mountains by air con van as the roads are being renovated. Rey had texted me short instructions how to get to Bread Homes in Davao and after a tricycle ride (motorcycle with side carriage), a multi cab ride I got at the market, and a motorcycle ride, all easily accomplished as the universe was working on my behalf to see Rey and the others, I arrived at Bread Homes. It was still early in the morning (about 5:30am), so I lay down and rested on a bamboo bench near a sari sari (small shop) by the main road. As some of the people in the village began to start their daily activities while it was still dark, I was asked where I was going and replied I was visiting a friend in Bread Homes who was doing a community sharing garden. There was a man who said he knew where Rey stayed and walked me to the house about a quarter mile down a rock and dirt road. It was close to 6:30 am. I thanked the man for helping get to Rey’s home and gave the usual greeting to a home when one is visiting, “Ai Ohhh”. Rey met me at the door and I gave him a big hug which Chris and Llyn are known for giving those who come to the gardens in greeting. I told Rey that the hug was from Chris, Llyn, and I, and so the adventure began. 

 I rested a little bit at the house as I had traveled all night and then awoke and met the other wonderful people who stayed at the house. After greetings, coffee, sharing about ourselves, and a good breakfast, Rey took me to the garden to see it. It is surrounded by a bamboo fence with a tarp sign of “Bread Homes Community Sharing Gardens” and colorful meshing made from vegetable bags surrounding some of the squash outside the fence to keep the small goats from eating the plants. We went inside the gate and though it was presently slightly overgrown there were okra and talong (eggplant) plants sticking up in various places. Rey shared with me some of the difficulties they had been having with growing some vegetables and the soil remediation he was presently doing by composting banana peels (from local shops) and cow dung scooped up from a nearby pasture. Insects had also been treating themselves to some of the vegetables before they were fully ripening.

As the soil seems to have a lot of clay in it the composting has been helping to improve the top soil layer. Over the next few days we went to the garden and cleared some of the overgrown vegetation, dug up the soil, took the wheel barrow and got banana peels and cow dung for the garden. 
It gets quite hot and humid in the garden so it is best to work earlier in the morning and work can only be sustained for about three hours. You sweat quite a bit and need to drink a lot of water. Rey, Che, and I have enlightening conversations in the garden as I have had working with Chris and Llyn in the garden in Oregon. Rey shared once about some of the frustrations he had experienced with the surrounding community. It was interesting that as he and I worked in the garden on two other days, people would visit and talked to us as we worked in the garden and the frustrations he had talked about disappeared. 

Rey and Che are very passionate and loving people as are the others in the community house at Bread Homes. Though the garden’s struggles with growing vegetables at times, the garden is a larger symbol of their desire to see community and interconnectedness restored to the people in their area, and to contribute in helping make the world a better place one small area at a time.

The compassion and kindness that Rey, Che, Lander and Cha and others in the community house have and are sharing to the people near the garden and in Bread Homes is beyond just the sharing of the vegetables that have been produced. They are helping to recreate community in the hearts of people and to increase the sharing of Love in many practical ways in Bread Homes. When I am around the community of Bread Homes, I feel continually surrounded by Love.

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