The differently-able students attending the David Rose School for Handicapped Children are challenging themselves to be part of a pursuit which, under different circumstances, you might not expect them to undertake.
On Friday, July 18 the Stabroek Business was invited to witness the harvesting of a quantity of green vegetables, pak choi and lettuce, cultivated by the children with their own hands. Their small ‘container garden’ alongside the school had yielded a bountiful harvest. True, it bore no resemblance to a mega farm nor is it likely to bring any really significant material reward, though it certainly symbolized the return that even children with physical challenges can secure for their efforts.
The produce was cultivated in an assortment of discarded containers and if you knew little or nothing about container farming you wouldn’t have thought that so much could come from so little. For good measure the teachers who supported the children throughout the project and at harvest time purchased almost the entire yield.
Much of the children’s success is due to the expert guidance of Mahadeo Mansaran aka Panday who has been assigned by Partners of the Americas to support the Project.
The David Rose School, on the one hand, is backing the Project primarily because of the physical and emotional exercise which it provides for the Children. Panday says that one of its goals is to earn the school some measure of revenue. Hopefully, the children can realize some earnings too.
In the long-term, the revenue from this Project is expected to be used to create a “Science Station” where the materials and resources pertaining to agriculture and science can be acquired. If what is garnered from the Project would almost certainly be insufficient to meet those needs, the teachers at the David Rose School make the point that any financial return from the Project might create a spark of entrepreneurship in the children that might impact on their lives in the future.
The Project also allowed for both students and teachers to become exposed to hydroponics, a water-based approach to agriculture. Interestingly, the teachers were able to connect classroom activities with the children’s outdoor-based agricultural pursuits as part of their broader learning experience.
Panday said that the involvement of the teachers was invaluable since “they are the ones with the knowledge of how to communicate with their children.”
The foundation for the Project was laid more than two months ago when Partners of the America was approached by Sabine McIntosh, a member of the Deaf Association. Partners of the Americas in collaboration with Caribbean Self-Reliance International (CASRI), through its Sustainable Livelihoods & Community Economic Growth Through Hydroponic & Organic Vegetable Production & Marketing facilitated the project. The project is funded by Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)/Japanese Trust Fund.
When school reopens in September, another batch of children is expected to start the container garden phase of the project while the current batch will ‘graduate’ to Shadehouse Management. A Shadehouse is now under construction on the lawns of the David Rose School where the children will benefit from yet another productive outdoor experience. This time around the School is anticipating greater yield and more material returns for their charges’ efforts. Partners of the Americas will facilitate the marketing of the produce and says it anticipates “significant public patronage.”