In light of the shocking news of children being separated from their parents and locked up in the Southern US…
In 2013 I came to Nepal to volunteer for an organization called, Prisoner Assistance Nepal (www.panepal.org). As a young, educated foreigner I thought I had something to contribute to this organization and this small himalayan nation. I was here to help but in the end it was I who got schooled in the reality of life and the power of caring for others.
While more wealthy and developed countries like the US are slipping back into history and reliving the horrible policies of separating families and incarcerating children, in Nepal we are using something called permaculture to care for children. And these children are special… they already know what it is like inside the prison, because some of them were born there and all of them lived there for sometime. These are the children of prisoners in Nepal.
Without getting into the politics of why children end up in prison, let’s look at how two organizations, PA Nepal and the Kamala Foundation Canada (www.kamalafoundation.org) are not only rescuing children from prison but developing sustainable farms and communities to help care for them. The idea is quite simple. It takes a village to raise a child… any child and by integrating children into larger communities and helping that community develop the capacity to care for children we not only help the children grow to be loving, intelligent, resilient members of society, we also contribute to improving the overall health and sustainability of the community and society in general.
The Kamala Foundation and Prisoners Assistance Nepal manage two “Sustainable Children’s Homes” in eastern Nepal. The two homes care for 20 children whose parents are in prison. The homes are actually permaculture farms which care for the children, grow their own food, produce their own energy and generate their own income. Staffed by community members and young adults who were once cared for in children’s home themselves, these kids live a wholesome life, eating organic food, going to the local school and participating in every part of social life in the village.
There is no justification for separating children from their families or their community. The only way to do so is to have separated yourself from nature, from community so far that you can psychologically convince yourself that political views or economic fears are more important than children and family. We need to fight this but we also need to continue to creatively design new ways of caring for each other and this beautiful earth that is our home. The answer is not segregation, but the integration of every aspect of life back into developing healthy communities that unconditionally value children and have the capacity to sustainably care for them.
To learn more about the sustainable children’s homes: