Like many children, 12-year-old Godavari (name changed) disliked vegetables.
This changed two months ago when she saw the first crop of brinjals she had grown in the backyard of her orphanage. Godavari is a Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) positive patient at St Catherine’s Home, Andheri. “Over the past two months, we have harvested brinjals which are cooked for our meals. Farming is fun,” she said.
Since January, Sprouts, a not-for-profit, has been teaching 60 children vegetable farming on vacant spaces on the shelter home’s 10-acre campus, which houses 350 orphans including 56 admitted to their HIV positive centre, Snehanilaya.
“Working on the farms has proved to be therapeutic for the HIV positive children. It perks them up when they are unwell or dispirited,” said Sister Vinita Fernandes, a staff member.
Sprouts volunteers have taught the children the different aspects of farming. “This project has helped give children a tangible result for their efforts,” said Anand Pendharkar, ecologist and founder, Sprouts.
“HIV positive children have a poor appetite. We thought they might eat more if they learnt to grow vegetables of their choice. And there has been a difference,” said Sister Shanti Remedios, 65.