As a horticultural therapist at our South East centre in London, Rebecca Smith witnesses the therapeutic benefit gardening can have for survivors of torture like Tania every single day.
Tania grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe. She felt a strong connection with the earth and loved the outdoors. She felt passionate about human rights and bravely spoke up against the terrible injustices in her country. Even after being beaten unconscious by the police, Tania carried on speaking out, desperate to make her homeland a better place.
That’s when the militia tried to silence her. Tania was beaten, burnt with cigarettes, and made to strip naked and sexually assaulted.
When she eventually escaped, Tania had no choice. She had to flee the country, leaving everybody and everything she loved behind.
Living as a refugee in the UK, Tania was haunted by painful memories. She could barely sleep and was terrified of being sent back.
Every time she closed her eyes, she would hear the cries of the girls who were raped in the prison. That’s when Tania went along to a support group, but every time she tried to express what she felt, tears was all that came out.
“I think you need to be freed from the torture that you had,” are the words that started Tania’s recovery. They came from one of the women in the support group as she handed Tania a leaflet for our gardening project.
As soon as Tania started potting, her lifelong love of the earth and nature immediately returned. She felt a sense of calm. Tania liked that she could speak as much or as little as she wanted. When she was angry, she dug. When she was feeling fragile, she delicately harvested vegetables.
Just like the beautiful flowers she’s planted, Tania has formed some firm friendships which are blooming at the gardening group.
This group is just like a family. You find the bond grows on, like you plant a tree, you see yourself sprouting, flourishing, bonding.
I don’t want anybody to miss out on the incredible therapeutic benefits of our garden. And only you can help more friendships, flowers and recoveries grow in the garden.
£15 could help to buy the supplies torture survivors need to plant, grow and cook vegetables together at our weekly gardening group.
£30 could pay for seeds from a torture survivor’s homeland.
£60 could help to build raised flower beds for torture survivors in too much pain to bend down to plant and pot.
Can you make a donation to help torture survivors plant the seeds of recovery?