In my role as a Learning Disability Support worker, I often have the pleasure of working alongside Andrew. It has been an eye opener to realise that what i spent 3 years learning in 'theory' on my 'Person Centred Counselling Course', Andrew learnt in practice through overcoming life’s adversities. He learnt that growth and development (life) is about 'cultivation', and it starts with planting a 'seed', whether it be physical, spiritual or psychological. Andrew has experienced the healing power of nature and for this reason, has a deep desire to help others reconnect with 'nature' i.e. themselves and the world around them. .He can empathise with others struggles in life, and is a man that holds no judgments only a helping hand. His therapeutic approach can be understood through an analogy he once gave me, 'When I look out on an over grown garden, I do not see the weeds, only the potential that's hidden underneath'.I wish him well in fulfilling his dreams.
Kind Regards, Amanda Wright.
As the Coordinator of the Organisation of HIV Positive African Men (OPAM) has held discussion on the subject mentioned above with Mr Andrew Zwane.OPAM will collaborate with Mr Zwane in the provision of this therapeutic service to its clients, their families, and the community at large. Gardening besides providing nutritious food, it is also promotes community cohesion.From our discussions Mr Zwane who is a horticulture expert will provide his expertise. He will also allow OPAM access to his allotment for the gardening work. OPAM will provide the material and the financial resources for the gardening work. The produce will be used to further the objectives of the collaboration exercise.OPAM and Mr Zwane will market the activity to HIV positive men, their families and the community (mainly the African and the Caribbean). OPAM and its members will use the knowledge gained to purse gardening activities in other boroughs of London.
The Organisation of HIV Positive African Men is collaborating with Mr Andrew Zwane in the gardening project. OPAM seeks to empower HIV positive African men.The gardening activity seeks to empower the HIV positive African (Caribbean) men in a number of ways. Gardening is a therapeutic activity, hence we seek to ensure that our members benefit from this no cost pain and stress relieving activity.
Gardening is a way of promoting social cohesion in the society. Most of our members are first generation of migrants in UK. Some have been in isolation due to poor health and stigma. Therefore participating in gardening is a way of integrating the members with the wider community of London. Gardening is a good physical exercise. This will promote good health of our members. Besides being an exercise it will go a long way in reversing stigma. Some people still believe that HIV positive people cannot led a normal life. By demonstrating that HIV positive people can still be involved in an high energy demanding activity like gardening, this will go a long way in reducing stigma.
Gardening is a source of fresh and nutritious food. By growing ones food one will have access to organic food. This will improve the incomes of the members as they will be able to save money they could have otherwise used to buy the food. This very appropriate at this time when the income support is being reduced. By growing food will also improve self esteem of members since some of them have been relaying on handouts for a long time. Gardening is the main economic activity in Africa; as a result this activity will quench the nostalgic longing of home for some. This will provide them with an opportunity to fuse the farming motivation techniques, collectivism, and many others. They will be able to share these techniques with the wider community.
The OPAM members will use the knowledge that they will gain on their allotments in their borough of residence. OPAM shall be helping its members to apply for allotments. This will boost the economic activity of our members.
The members are highly motivated after going through the induction last week. They are keen to participate in community activities far from the medicalised activities. They see this as a opportunity to interact with the non-medical people on an equal footing not the usual service user-service provider setup. This time they are the service givers.
Compiled by Danmore Sithole OPAM Coordinator
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