Welcome to the Healing Garden for Children and Families in Chamchamal.
Built in response to therapists at Jiyan Foundation, the Healing Garden is a place of rest and security for women and children who have experienced violence and persecution. The women and children in the healing garden are accompanied by our specially trained therapeutic team who utilize a holistic approach to recovery. Patients engage in garden, art, play, group and individual therapies alongside comfort from animals and a community of support.
A holistic approach to recovery
A sanctuary for animals and patients alike, the Healing Garden utilizes a holistic approach to recovery. Here children often engage with emu, cats, dogs, horses, goats, chickens, and other animals as a way to develop empathetic relationships with living things.
Survivors of trauma and health concerns can engage in horticultural therapy, a technique which involves tending to plants to develop motor function, muscle memory and reduce stress.
Generations of trauma and terror
The city of Chamchamal is located in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. People here have suffered under the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. During the so-called Anfal operations of the 1980s, many people were tortured, lost their livelihoods, and continue to suffer from trauma associated with the violence. Since then, violence has persisted in the region and many women and children require specific mental health treatment in a safe place.
Long-term support for children and families
The Healing Garden is built to address the social and psychological issues associated specifically with women and children. Each week, our specially trained female therapists take patients into the garden for individual and group therapy. Patients dealing with acute trauma express relief from these sessions as they engage in unique programs only possible in the Healing Garden. The garden also hosts local school trips regularly.
A new approach
Since 2020, In cooperation with the German institute GÄRTEN HELFEN LEBEN, Jiyan therapists from Chamchamal have been trained in horticultural therapy. Supervised by their coaches, they have started using the therapeutic potential of the healing garden with clients from Chamchamal’s treatment center and the women’s clinic.
Armin*, age 50
Having grown up orphaned, Armin worked his entire life to provide for himself, his wife and five children. A passionate gardener, Armin was known to speak non-stop about different trees, flowers and agricultural techniques.
Armin suffered a stroke causing half his body to respond exceptionally slow. His lack of motor skills and partial paralysis lead him into severe depression. Taking advice from his family, Armin reached out Jiyan Foundation in Chamchamal last spring.
Realizing his passion for gardening and yearning for physical activity our therapists invited Armin to eight sessions of garden therapy at the healing garden.
Soon after, Armin gifted his own trees and flowers to plant in the garden. On his final therapy session Armin confessed he was afraid to return home but thanks to his therapy he has now gained the courage and inspiration to go back to his home village and create his own sanctuary for local plants and animals.
While his motor skills aren’t what they used to be, his depression has subsided, and Armin looks forward to retiring to his own sanctuary where he can pay forward the help that he was given.
Additionally, the plants he tended to last spring are thriving this summer, providing shade and security to the animals of the healing garden.
What is Horticultural Therapy?
It’s well documented that tending to plants and living creatures can yield positive psychological and physical effects. Horticultural therapy combines gardening with other therapeutic techniques to improve the lives of people with physical and mental health problems. These techniques assist participants in learning new skills or regaining those which they have lost due to traumatic injuries, strokes or other neurological disorders. Horticultural therapy can improve memory, language skills, socialization, coordination and endurance.
Support an Award-winning Space for Healing and Sustainability
iF Social Impact Prize 2020
The iF SOCIAL IMPACT PRIZE aims to publish and support projects that contribute to our society.
“The Healing Garden impresses with its simplicity and effectiveness. The cultivation of the garden by locals, who earn their living with it, and at the same time the use of traditional loam construction and sewage techniques impressively confirm the sustainable approach of this wonderful project!.”
– Jury Statement
National Energy Globe Award Iraq 2020
Preservation of Resources and Sustainable Planning in a Post-Conflict Setting
In 2015, we built a Healing Garden in the city of Chamchamal in Iraq to provide a garden and animal-assisted therapy for traumatized persons. The garden has enabled us to revitalize traditional building designs and techniques, introducing green technology solutions such as wastewater treatment, biogas, and solar energy generation, and to educate people about environmental stewardship. The decentralized wastewater treatment plant has a capacity of processing 100 m3 of greywater per day and the biogas plant recycles animal waste into gas and fertilizer.
Food, veterinary appointments, medication, you name it. Our animal helpers work hard everyday to empower survivors and give courage to children, but they need help too. Any small donation can provide food and medication for our animal friends keeping them in tip-top shape so they can do their jobs for the families who benefit from their support.