When we first met Maggarie, she was a single mother, frail, and ashamed of an illness she had no fault in contracting. She was struggling to feed her family after her husband died and there were rumors flying around about the cause of his death. She was lost, alone and unsure how she was going to take care of her children. “Before I joined the gardening group, I had problems. I was worried about my children, I did not think I would stay alive to take care of them.”
Between our project and the support of the other people in the group, Maggarie began to see things differently. She began to feel supported by her peers and realize that she was not alone. She began to realize the potential of abandoned spaces. She realized she could grow things including her own potential.
She started sharing her stories, sharing her fears and sharing her life. What she grew in the garden was a sense of community. “I was lifted, lifted by the project. Today, I have grandchildren. I did not think I would be alive to see my grandchildren.”
DIG gardens are not about saving lives but about transforming lives. They are about keeping HIV positive fathers and mothers, like Maggarie, healthier and productive longer so they can continue providing for their families. The gardens are about giving ostracized and stigmatized people a safe place to gather to share their stories, fight stigma, and have a place where they can be productive, nurtured and nourished.
We all have a human need to connect with people, to nourish our bodies and our spirit, and to have a sense of place. That is what the DIG community is about.