09 Healing Addiction by healing the Earth - Fr. Joe H Pereira

posted Aug 10, 2017, 9:33 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 10, 2017, 9:33 AM ]
Kripa Foundation—the largest NGO in India looking after people afflicted with chemical dependency and HIV infection—completes 36 years this month.

In May 2016, Pope Francis’ encyclical on saving the world—Laudato Si'—was presented to great acclaim, and not a minute too soon. In a world torn by man’s greed, he declared for Mother Earth, urging responsible consumption, accompanied at every step by corresponding methods of preserving and nurturing the blue planet.

At Kripa Foundation, where we have been fighting forms of addiction for the past three decades, we are gearing up to celebrate 36 years of existence this month. And how better to celebrate, we thought, that within the framework of the vision of His Holiness. Thus, Kripa Foundation visualised a pro-life project for the Earth for those suffering from addictions. As the addicts were loving their most abused and misused bodies, minds and souls back to life, simultaneously, they could twin their efforts with the Pope’s teaching on the Environment.

Barely a year ago, we met Rosie Harding and Peter Fernandes in Asaagao, Goa, co-founders of an initiative that turned degraded lands into lush food-producing. We enlisted their support to design and implement the new Kripa Foundation Kitchen Garden and Food Forest. And already, on 2,400 sq metres of dry, uncultivated, unproductive dirt in Anjuna, the Kripa Foundation’s Kitchen Garden and Food Forest is producing thrice-weekly harvests for our centre, as well as for the local community.

Already featuring a great diversity of species, including leafy greens and vegetables, culinary and medicinal herbs, fruit trees and support plants for pollinators and other beneficial insects, the garden will soon include poultry (chickens and ducks), seasonal aquaculture and bees; the potential yield is limited only by our own knowledge and imagination.

What is central to the garden project is recovery and occupational therapy, wherein clients in recovery can benefit from food, as well as a relaxing environment.

This is accompanied by the Skill Development and Educational Program. Based on ability and willingness to learn, the garden becomes a multi-disciplinary environment where many skills may be gained. Today, there is a great need for experienced food and ecosystem artisans.

Not just for clients, however, the garden offers a comprehensive educational programme in active development for clients, trainees/interns and members of the community. The curriculum includes both theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience via talks, workshops, internships and structured volunteering opportunities for short, mid and long-term. And if you like what you see, replicating the initiative becomes easy.