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Refugees Nurture Healing Build Bridges through Herbs and Medicinal Plants

Through the cultivation and selling of these products, the refugees and migrants will build positive links with Spanish communities.

Photo of Yvonne Lodico
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

We are pleased to submit a proposal for the Bridgebuilder 2019 Challenge: People on the Move. We believe that our proposal to help refugees and migrants in Spain to set up urban micro farms for herbal and medicinal plants will offer one opportunity “to help people on the move and their neighbors to build bridges to a shared future of stability and promise.” Our specific idea is to help refugees and migrants to develop urban farms for herbal and medicinal plants for strengthening communities, holistically and economically.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

For this proposal, we will focus especially on Venezuelan and Colombia refugees in Spain, whose numbers have increased exponentially, respectively. Also, we are registered in Colombia and are intimately aware of the refugee situation for Venezuelans and the tragic impact of the collapsed peace accord in Colombia. In the case of Venezuelans, they have fled and are fleeing out of necessity due to inter alia collapse of economy, political oppression, criminality and violence, and lack of social se

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

We believe that with this strategy: migrants’ herbal Cooperative Center medicinal plants business, migrants will build bridges of healing and coexistence in their new environments, as well as possibilities for connections in their new environments, as well as possibilities for links with other migrants and displaced persons. Sharing their experiences, knowledge, culture and hope, the Center would serve as a platform for friendships, and coexistence.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

We have chosen medicinal plant cultivation for refugees and migrants because the cultivation and selling of these products, will help the lead to healing and transcending the trauma of violence, oppression and environmental degradation. Also, the development of the centers will build bonds of friendship and safety, and providing a shared sense of hope and dignity. Through the selling of the plants, this will bring about empowerment, they will be able to have a sense of pride in their work, their product and contribute to the Spanish society without seeming to be a burden. Through healing, empowerment, bonding with other, they will have a chance to aspire for hope and feel joy knowing of a possibility for a positive future and fostering human flourishing. In this sense, they will be building long term relationships at the time they recover joy, equality and dignity.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

There are new challenges to be faced by both migrants and recipient countries. With this in mind, the Community of Madrid has launched “the 2019-2021 integration plan” , which contains several initiatives to support migrants’ wellness and sustainable lives. These schemes do not involve the inter-dependence of independence, healing and empowerment. To this end, none of these approaches cover Grace Initiative’s strategy, which through an innovative and holistic plan will assist immigrant integration by producing and selling of herbal and medicinal plants as a way of healing, coexistence and integration in new environments. Further, it will provide a mechanism for building bridges with the Spanish society and other migrants. The plants represent healing and will bring about healing - this is important substantively and symbolically.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

We have focused on these communities from various perspectives, because those who are fleeing to Spain have experience hardship and violence for years from the civil war in Colombia, the de facto collapse of the peace accords, the rise of authoritarianism in Venezuela, the lack of opportunity, and confrontation of hostility in the country and on the borders in South American. The inspiration for our proposal, however, is knowing that there groups already helping the refugees and knowing that our idea has already been accepted for other conflict situations. For example, we are collaborating with a group in Iraq, to help Yazidi women, who were held captive to develop a herbal medicinal business. We believe that this will contribute positively among the women who are affected and the communities in which they must integrate. We believe that this could be replicated in Spain.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

In regard to refugees, Spain registered its record for asylum applications (estimated 54,000), with currently more than 100.000 people awaiting response. Venezuelans represented that largest group asylum applications, with 19.280 asylum applications, followed by Colombian (8,650) . The medicinal plants will serve to inter alia: heal from being uprooted and some of the causes of self-exile; develop connections with other migrants and the Spanish communities in which they are living; and; generate revenue for income. Medicinal plants can bring about regenerative healing - one of the oldest forms of health care. In fact in Colombia, for example, medicinal plants and products are widely used, especially with Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities. In Africa, and even in Vermont, there are several centers and farms for regenerative medicinal plants.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

The medicinal plants will serve to inter alia: heal from being uprooted and some of the causes of self-exile; develop connections with other migrants and the Spanish communities in which they are living; and; generate revenue for income. Medicinal plants can bring about regenerative healing - one of the oldest forms of health care. In fact in Colombia, for example, medicinal plants and products are widely used, especially with Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities. In Africa, and even in Vermont, there are several centers and farms for regenerative medicinal plants. Spanish is a traditional agricultural country and in fact supporting of the UN resolution calling for the decade of family farming. For our proposal, it is especially suited because its climate conditions and its rich flora are very favorable for the cultivation of medicinal plants promoting the growing of high quality and varied products. Also, medicinal plants offer value, socially and economically.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

For this proposal, however, we are focusing on the migrants and refugees in Spain and therefore we are in the process of registration in Spain. For this project, we plan to collaborate with inter alia the Forum for the Social Integration of Immigrants, Foro para la Integración Social de los Inmigrantes, which represents the main channel of participation for NGOs and association in integration policies and CEAR, the Spanish Refugee Aid Commission, La Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Platform: Creating a community or market that facilitates interaction between users and resources

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Blueprint: We are exploring the idea and gathering the inspiration and information we need to test it with real users.

Group or Organization Name

Initiative for Governance, Reconciliation, Agriculture and Coexistence - Grace Initiative Global

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Grace Initiative evolved from personal experiences of the team members, including the founder. Having served on 4 peacekeeping missions, had personal experience working with refugees and IDPS. In fact, for 4 months, the founder lived along side an IDP camp in Timor-Leste. Being displaced is degrading, no home, and even with re-integration IDPs, refugees are not wanted. From this first hand experience, I realized that refugees and IDPs, for example, need to to support themselves legally, they need to regain a sense of self-worth, they need dignity and healing of the trauma that brought them to the situation. Therefore, we believe that the development of a herbal and medicinal plan cooperative, will allow for the displaced people to heal, transcend the horrors from which they came, build links with the community - build bridges and not be isolated.

Website URL:

www.grace-initiative.org

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

USA

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Dorset, VT

3 comments

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Photo of Lorena Rodriguez
Team

Great initiative!
This initiative is innovative and exciting. The process of healing from the trauma of violence and displacement by integrating soil and plants has a tremendous positive impact on individuals and communities in general. This initiative also provides bridges between Colombians and Venezuelans. By working on micro-farms, they will be able to share not only their ancestral practices of cultivation of medicinal plants, but also their physical and emotional benefits, and their life stories. They will be able to find shared experiences and sympathize with others. Besides, I see that this project can provide opportunities, especially for women, who in situations of refugees or migrants face particular risks in their process of integration into hosts civil society. Traditionally in Colombia, women have been carriers of knowledge in medicinal plants and their holistic uses.

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