I am Lena Le Gall, the Head of Capacity Building at Jiyan Foundation. I want to tell the story of Armin, a patient that has benefited tremendously from horticultural therapy, a therapeutic method that we have begun offering this year at our Healing Garden in Chamchamal.
Armin grew up an orphan and worked his entire life to provide for himself, his wife, and five children. A passionate gardener, he was known to speak non-stop about different trees, flowers, and agricultural techniques.
A few years ago, Armin suffered a stroke causing half his body to respond exceptionally slow. His lack of motor skills and partial paralysis led him into severe depression. Taking advice from his family, Armin reached out to Jiyan 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.
Horticultural therapy uses the cultivation of plants and gardening activities to improve mental and physical health. It can enhance memory, cognitive skills, task initiation, and socialization. In physical rehabilitation, horticultural therapy can help strengthen muscles and improve coordination, balance, and endurance.
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.
Thanks to the generous support of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano, Jiyan Foundation was able to attempt something that had never been done in Iraq before: We took the first concrete steps to introduce horticultural therapy as a new and unconventional treatment approach in our Healing Garden in Chamchamal. With the Garden becoming bigger and greener, we wanted to invest into capacity building for our psychological staff on how to best use the healing potential of this place.
A therapist who participated in the training program said “This was one of the most inspiring trainings I ever attended. Although I grew up in the countryside, I did not know that plants and flowers can also be used in therapy. I can see how well our clients respond to this therapy approach as many of them are tired of speaking, or have difficulties expressing themselves verbally. Jiyan’s Healing Garden is a powerful resource for me as a therapist.”
Jiyan therapists use the Healing Garden with adults and children as well as with the Yazidi women who stay at our inpatient clinic nearby. It’s an essential safe space to support the mental health of people living in the region.
Armin is just one of the thousands of people who are in urgent need of support from Jiyan Foundation. Your gift today will ensure we continue and expand our services.
Lena Le Gall
Head of Capacity Building
Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights