The Healing Garden

2019 March 15

Krishnaraj Nambiar, Volunteer at Pallium India, writes:

What does it take to transform a barren land into a beautiful garden? And to infuse life into the monotony of existence of people with major health issues?

Ian Wallace and his wife Dr. Anne Wallace from New Zealand showed that it could be done not with a lot of money but with a vision, a lot of grit and determination, the ability to mobilise and motivate people to lend a hand, and the use of recyclable materials that would otherwise have been wasted.

The Wallaces recently spent a month in Trivandrum where Dr. Anne was working on a project for Pallium India. She was joined by her husband Ian, a Forester. Ian was saddened by the sight of the hardened waste land lying at the far end of Pallium India’s premises. He visualised that it could be converted into a beautiful garden that would enhance the quality of lives of our in-patients. He soon set about buying the basic gardening tools of a shovel, pick axe, wheel barrow etc and working throughout the day to dig up the ground, clear it of weeds, rubble and waste. He used discarded wooden sleepers to build a compost bin (to produce vermi compost), dug and prepared pits and planted banana plants. He helped with preparing beds to grow spinach and planting seedlings of tomato, bitter gourd, egg plant, okra, mint, coriander, chilly, Roses, Lily, Bougainvilleas etc. His untiring efforts inspired a few caregivers to lend him a hand. Dr. Anne too found time to help out.

The Wallaces also raised funds for the venture from their friends in New Zealand and elsewhere, to give us a beautiful garden entirely free. We learnt many a lesson from their initiative and applaud them for such a noble gesture. Some of the plants have started yielding vegetables and are being used in our half way home and the surplus sold to staff. All proceeds from the sale go to the care of Pallium India’s patients.

Ian has aptly named the garden “The Healing Garden”.

We saw the garden truly healing people. Our lives acquired new meaning when a young woman with only three more days to live, hooked up to a syringe pump to ward off her incessant vomiting, was wheeled out to the garden and when a smile lit up her face for the first time in several days.

It was heart-warming when a gentleman with paraplegia, till then a “patient”, became a member of the healing team by untiringly engaging in painting the flower-pots. And when Ashla, our chairman’s executive assistant on her wheelchair, made a shaded area in the garden her office one day.

Read more about what the Healing Garden means to the people in our care:

This article wouldn’t be complete without recognising the untiring effort put in by Shriya Singh, an intern from IIM Kolkatta, Ramakrishnan the caregiver and Shambhu the volunteer consultant.

The Wallaces were filled with emotion when bidding good bye to their garden and to Pallium India. They have since been in frequent touch with us from New Zealand enquiring about the welfare of The Healing Garden.

We look forward to the day when the garden will beckon the Wallaces to make another trip to their creation.

One Response
  1. A Sivaramakrishnan permalink
    March 17, 2019

    Very touching and a noble and inspiring endeavor.
    To contribute with ideas and effort more than with money shows how much the Wallaces care for the disadvantaged.
    United effort can solve all our problems and acts as an antidote to negativity.

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