A Child’s Garden of Peace

A Child’s Garden of Peace
School and community gardens, recycling education in Brazil
Education & Learning
Not for profit (un-incorporated)
South America

A Child’s Garden of Peace (Projeto Sossego do Meio Ambiente) facilitates the creation of school and community gardens recycling education and environmental action on a neighborhood level in several communities in Brazil. We work with children their families and local education systems to integrate learning and gardening and improve nutrition. Our activities reflect personal and community responsibility for developing skills and knowledge that support sustainable living. For economic development we collaborate with a group of women to develop a cooperative of women who hand make accessories with reused alluminum pull tabs. We import these to the US where we sell them to fund the women’s on going work and two scholarships so that local people can complete their education. The scholarship recipients in turn run the environmental education program for the younger community children and work with the grade school to support their garden program and environmental education.

We began with a small grant from the Canadian International Development Agency to develop school and community gardens. Our project has grown to encompass environmental and communication education and enterprise development. We work in Santo Angelo RS Brazil in the Bairro Centro Sul community to run a community garden and provide on-going support for the elementary school garden. Our scholarship program supported by donations and the sale of Alluminate Accessories that the neighborhood women make from reused aluminum pull tabs ensures educational opportunity for youth who otherwise would have no way to go to college. The youth earn their scholarships through community service by providing educational activities at the local community center and elementary school. We focus on developing the skills people need to understand how to deal appropriately with trash and organic waste how to grow food cook and eat nutritiously and how to collaboratively develop enterprise opportunities.

The twenty women who make purses belts and dog collars from reused aluminum pull tabs meet together weekly to work together teach each other new designs they have developed and work out the sharing of supplies and sales. This has created warm friendships business skills self-esteem and increased income for the women who can earn much more per hour making these unique accessories than they can make in local jobs (mostly the women can only work as maids locally). Our intention with the scholarship program is to support the community to move out of poverty by educating the young people to work in a professional capacity. By asking the scholarship recipients to serve the younger children as they go to college we hope to develop an ethic of community service that will encourage the the program participants to stay in school and strive to become teachers in the program to earn their way to college also.

Our documentary film on the start of this project A Child’s Garden of Peace: Seeding the Future has appeared in many film festivals and on PBS in the Emmy Award winning series Natural Heroes. Addtionally we ran a youth film making program that allowed the teens to tell stories of their community and themselves to an international audience. Several of the films appeared in multiple festivals and one won an award from the Aspen Locals Festival.

In Sao Borja RS we work with the Centro Formao Teresa Verzeri an educational program for children ages 5 to 15. We help the nuns and secular staff who run this nationally recognized program to integrate gardening and environmental education into their activities with children and their families. This environmental program received a national grant to spread gardening skills to families by teaching them to grow and maintain kitchen gardens to improve family nutrition. In Sao Borja we also supported financially the start of a women’s sewing cooperative to provide job training and income to the mothers of the children involved.

In Rio de Janeiro we work with a day care in Rocinha a favela with a high crime rate. We created a roof top garden so that the children could have some access to nature and grow some of the food for their meals at the daycare.

Illene Pevec founded the project and continues to run it.

Myra Margolin has collaborated on several art and film making activities.
Hamilton and Zuleika Pevec collaborated in the first year to do the documentary and help start the project.
Eleazar and Ignez Luft, and Theresinha Leal are Brazilian Subud members who collaborated the first few years and made it possible in the beginning, but are no longer involved.
Illene Pevec