By Elaine Ueda, Work and Travel Participant, Spring 2014

Elaine is a Work and Travel participant from the Philippines who demonstrated a deep commitment to her host community in Montana by volunteering over 70 hours during her program as a member of the Greenheart Club.  Elaine was awarded a Greenheart Service Grant to continue her passion for volunteer service and community engagement back in her home community. Read on to learn more about her project, “Give yourself a glance, to give our land a chance” about constructing a botanic garden!

My project was intended to make a botanical garden in a public barren land that was formerly used by the community as a dump site. However, there were sudden changes that happened as I was working on the project. After purchasing, the public land that was used by the community as dump site was already being cleaned by one labor worker and one volunteer homeowner. For three days, the land was still in the process of cleaning but we were given a notice that the land was already purchased by one of the homeowners and it was not considered as a public land anymore. So we told the president that since we were halfway through on doing my project, we’ll just do it instead in the church’s yard inside the village. The president of the homeowner’s association and the president of the church’s ministry both approved the idea. Mrs. Judy Junsay, the president of the Our lady of Fatima Church Officers was happy upon learning that we were going to be building a botanical garden and renovating the yard.

The first part of the project was deciding which plants would be grown in the botanic garden. We decided on a variety of medicinal plants, which can be used as natural remedies for a wide range of health issues such as cancers, gastrointestinal problems, and high blood pressure among others. My mother bought the plants. She bought guyabano or soursop, oregano, papaya, calamansi, guava, some flowering plants, and sacks of soil.

So, we started doing the project by cleaning the yard and planning what should be renovated. Upon continuing the project, the particular area in which the botanical garden would be was cemented and renovated by the labor workers. There were several areas in the yard in which the medicinal plants were planted. My mom, my sister, and one of the homeowners were the volunteers that worked on tasks such as planting the trees and plants, painting the pots, and cleaning the yard. The other side of the yard was renovated by arranging the plants that were already planted, putting red paint in the pathways beside the church, and planting guyabano trees. Me and my sister put plants in the pots and painted the pots. It was a success for giving the yard a chance to be new and to be a botanical garden. Although there were just a few volunteers, I am still thankful because a small act has still a great impact in the world. I am thankful for the labor workers, the president of the homeowners association, the church, and volunteers who helped to fulfill the project. I am thankful also to my sister for volunteering and being a part of this project. I am most thankful to my mom, for the full support she had for me. Also, thank you CCI Greenheart for giving me this opportunity.