DIEKIRCH REFUGEE CENTER: A GARDENING INITIATION TO ENJOY THE SUMMER DAYS
Located in a green setting below their accommodations, the residents of the Diekirch refugee center have embarked on a gardening project that is beginning to pay off. The garden is quickly evolving and starting to spread towards the buildings while fitting harmoniously into the rural environment of the Diekirch heights.
The initiative, which is reminiscent of the traditional allotments scattered around Luxembourg’s steel factories, provides a hobby for all those with a green thumb. Even more.
Indeed, the hardest working gardeners (about fifteen people) are spending several hours a day on this voluntary basis project. If the weather allows it. Nevertheless, with surprising results.
Some of them are beginners in gardening and yet reaching unexpected yields, especially with potatoes. Enough to start preparing the famous “Gromperekichelcher”.
Others are more experienced and even succeed to grow inside greenhouses the spices so appreciated by their Middle Eastern cuisine.
This attractive project also chooses to grow organic crops without pesticides, particularly by using intercropping, which allows diversifying the cultivated plants while using sustainable practices for the environment.
With the help of Nicolas Lemercier, educator at the Diekirch structure, the residents have access to the seeds and materials required for the maintenance of their plots. The plots allocation and their sizes correspond to the number of members of the enrolled family or according to the number of singles who are joining forces to work the land.
The spirit of this project is one of self-management. Beginners are asking for help at first with the basics of gardening. Then they are encouraged to manage their plots themselves, like finding a new volunteer when they leave the residence. Some of them are demonstrating great ingenuity, especially in the construction of greenhouses made essentially from recycled materials” explains Nicolas. Each volunteer is learning and shares new skills. More generally, the residents are gathering new communication tools for their future inclusion in the Luxembourg job market.
This new passion for gardening also allows residents to face financial hardship, especially for the least fortunate families, as gardening also allows them to collect fresh fruits and vegetables at a lower cost. In addition, gardening helps the refugees to rebuild their self-confidence and relieves some of the daily tensions in the shelter.
Elisa Fernandez has been a dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer with DRESS FOR SUCCESS in Luxembourg. She has been volunteering with this initiative from the beginning on. She is an avid advocate of women empowerment and believes that women hold enough power to achieve everything
they want. She not only works in many other charity organisations but also helps other women with their careers by being a role model and mentor for them. Elisa aims to keep on fighting for the rights of women and believes in the courage other women around her show. She says volunteering and helping others gives her a sense of living and she wants to just leave people with ideas to help themselves and elevate.
“”I BELIEVE IN POWER WITHIN WOMEN, THEIR STRENGTH AND DEDICATION!””
-ELISA FERNANDEZ, LUXEMBOURG, LUXEMBOURG
“It’s always a pleasure to work with Serve the City for the beauty events. On that rainy Saturday morning, we were able to share a few hours of relaxation and pampering with those beautiful women. While doing each woman’s makeup, I listened to her story, what she liked, what her
plans for the day were, what her children were like. It warmed my heart when, upon seeing their “new” reflection in the mirror, their faces lit up and they said: ‘I feel beautiful!’ A few of them even said they were going to go for a walk and have coffee that day because they were feeling good about themselves.
To me, that is the whole point of doing those beauty events.” Claudia loves to attend such beauty events in which she listens to life stories and helps people look beautiful. She believes she can give tons of self confidence to women with low esteem or who do not feel very courageous in the society.
Student at the university of Luxembourg and volunteer with Unity Foundation, I had the chance to facilitate a workshop with Unity Foundation at Lycée Saint-Anne in Ettelbruck on Thursday, 3rd February. The high-school students could share their feelings and reactions while watching the poignant short film Mercy’s Blessing, which illustrates powerful concepts like sacrifice, empathy, justice, and how we can participate in the improvement of society by implementing those values in our daily lives.
Discussions have been enriching, enabling each girl to think about herself and her relation to society. As a teenager, I was limited in my ambition for myself and for society because of a certain number of commonplaces: “one has to accept norms”, “an individual can’t do anything against global problems”, “one can’t change human nature” and of unspoken notions in the school environment: no opportunity to discuss social issues or to question oneself – focus on daily life and on academic results. I wanted to contribute to offering this space for reflection and this opening to the world to young people by becoming a volunteer for Unity Foundation. I am convinced that young people cannot create meaning in their lives without being stimulated in their thinking. Unity Foundation provides elements of reflection and encourages their analysis in everyone.