Getting into the Christmas spirit and also as an antidote to the news of Australian politicians being undiplomatic in the West Bank, I thought I’d talk about something garden-y and good that’s happening in Gaza for Gardening at Night this week. (This week’s episode is brought to you by the letter ‘G’.)
Anyway…back in 2004, Moira Kelly was in Gaza organising a medical rescue mission. Moira Kelly is an Australian humanitarian who is best known for bringing Trishna and Krishna the Bangladeshi conjoined twins to Australia for surgery.
When she was in Gaza, she visited the Gaza War Cemetery, which is maintained in part by the Office of Australian War Graves. She found the cemetery to be a sanctuary of green space in stark contrast to the bombed streets where she saw children playing. So she decided that the children of Gaza needed a garden.
In 2013 Moira Kelly founded Global Gardens of Peace as an Australia-based charity that would provide gardens for children in war zones, starting with Gaza. The Municipality of Khan Younis in Gaza provided 32,000 square meters of land for the garden. Khan Younis is the location of a large refugee camp that housed 72,000 registered refugees in 2011, 30% of whom were aged under 14.
The Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne got on board, with their landscape gardener David Laidlaw leading the team to design the garden. The design for the garden includes a treehouse, a giant slide, a flying fox, fruit trees, vegetable plots, an oasis, and education and cooking facilities.
Global Gardens of Peace has estimated the cost of the project to be A$8.5 million. This includes some provision for a desalination plant, which will be required for the garden’s ongoing maintenance; 90% of the local water supply is considered unfit for human consumption and salinity is a significant problem.
A team from Global Gardens of Peace visited Gaza in November this year and met with representatives from the UNDP and the Municipality of Khan Younis. Despite the positive tone of reports on the visit, the project is still waiting for funds. According to a report in the Canberra Times back in March this year, other nations had offered support but Moira Kelly wants the project to be “a gift from Australia with no strings attached”.
More information about Global Gardens of Peace: http://www.globalgardensofpeace.org
Featured image: “The Treehouse”. Borrowed from Global Gardens of Peace: Moira’s Garden – The Beginning