I have learned many valuable lessons since joining Sat Nam Foundation. One of the most profound has been 'Listen.'
In the words of Guru Singh,
When you want to connect; when you want to create a relationship, the most vital action to take is to deeply listen... When a person experiences your depth of listening -- their needs will relax . . . they feel heard.
Many times after a natural disaster or when observing communities in need, we assume the people need something. Though, in my experience, when I spend time with these people and listen, their needs surface and may be totally different than I thought.
In Tashirat's case, they expressed the need for water abundance, growing food, and overall sustainability. My first thought was, 'we need to capture and store more rain water.' Although this is true, it was not necessarily the first step in the process towards self-sustainability.
In the past couple of months I have been spending a good bit of time with the Tashirat staff. Together, we decided that the first step in their process to self-sustainability is to 'stop wasting water.' Since deciding this, we have created a long-term plan that involves installing dry toilets and grey water recycling systems. The compost created from the dry toilets and the grey water will be used to feed and nourish their fruit orchards!
I located a local nonprofit, 'Tierra Negra,' that specializes in designing and installing these systems. Together we created a plan where Tierra Negra will install dry toilets and grey water systems in one area of Tashirat (only about 10% of their campus). The staff and children at Tashirat will begin using and caring for these systems immediately. If the staff is easily able to care for the systems for the next 6 months or so, we will reconnect with Tierra Negra to finish the rest of the campus.
I went to Tashirat to support the other day. As I entered I saw a group of the children in the garden planting vegetables. I was intercepted by Gor, long time staffer, and began a deep conversation with him about the agriculture program at Tashirat. It became clear that the children are inspired to grow their own food and play an active role in the success of Tashirat's path towards sustainability.
We decided that Tashirat would benefit greatly if we provided a set of agriculture tools (i.e. wheel barrows, hoes, shovels, hoses, etc.) so all the children could actively participate in growing food and caring for the land.
This morning I will head up to Tashirat to finalize purchasing plans with Gor and have tools delivered for the children by the end of this weekend. We feel that providing the children with these tools will help them gain useful skills that will be with them their whole lives and empower them to be active participants in the elevation of humanity and the earth after they leave Tashirat.