A local couple runs a huge community garden on their own property. It is right next to their house. Both of the couple work full time jobs.
|Each one of those postage stamps is approximately 45'-by-30' or 1300 square feet. A typical, urban community garden plot is approximately 100 square feet. Some families garden multiple plots.|
One gardener has 17 children. The gardener's sister died in the refugee camp so she added the two broods together.
Another gardener spent several generations in a refugee camp in Burundi.
I choose to present this through the lens of "resources" because "resources" are judgement neutral.
There is no such thing as "private property" in a refugee camp except the few things you can defend with tooth-and-claw. Look at those walls...a child can push their way through them and pilfer.
People join together into extended family groups, perhaps aligned along village of origin or tribal affiliation. Then they ferociously defend the artifacts they need to survive day-to-day.
Another thing that occurs when there is no such thing as private property is that people live for today. Grab as much as you can and then trade for fleeting pleasures. No sense saving what the thief will take in the night. There is a thriving trade of illicitly brewed beer and sexual favors (often not consensual) in refugee camps.
The total dependency on the stream of outside resources and the internal barter economy results in people taking more than they need for use as trading goods. It does not matter that a person does not need three hats, they take them anyway.
Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny
The couple who run this community garden learned to work through these issues. The gardens provides the recent refugees with a safe, micro environment to "grow" into First World behaviors.
It is not fast. It is not a straight line. Some of the gardeners refuse to "play nice" and are not invited back.
A few examples
Put out five pounds of bean seeds and the first gardener to see them will take them home and make soup. The couple responded by buying ten pounds of bean seeds and pre-packaging them in envelopes containing enough seeds for a 30' row. Then they ask each gardener how many rows of beans they intend to plant.
Of course, many of the gardeners comes back the next week and asks for more bean seeds, which the couple graciously give them.
It is a bit like a foster child who was hungry. The foster parents let the toddler walk around with a carrot or apple in their hand so the child's anxiety is eased.
Ten pounds of beans last a long, long time when handed out 60 beans at a time.
Another example was when two of the gardeners had a spat. A newcomer carefully measured out her plot and figured out that it was smaller than another lady's. I suspect that the other lady belonged to a competing tribe "back home". A screaming match ensued.
The woman who owns the garden resolved the issue by pointing at the larger plot and observing that there was not a single weed in the plot. Then she pointed at the smaller plot and noted that it was not as well taken care of. The woman then ruled, in her squeaky, not-very-commanding voice, "You can have a larger plot next year but first you have to show me that you can take care of it by doing a better job on this smaller one. We have plenty of land here but not enough to waste."
It must be noted that the pristine plot was weeded by 18 sets of hands. Yes, it belonged to the Nigerian woman who was also raising her nieces and nephews.
Another example involves the chase to find vegetables that resemble the ones they ate "back home".
|Winter Sweet and Sweet Meat squash fit the bill.|
The path from "refugee" to "citizen" is labor intensive and is "high touch". Each refugee comes with a unique burden of scar tissue. The progressive couple with the community garden are high-minded but are not blinded by what should be. They see what is and set about making it better.
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