The Empowerment Project
There is a growing awareness in Vietnam of the environmental challenges caused by chemical and other pollution, loss of tropical forest and climate change.
In this context, the TTG biodynamic organic garden offers an exceptional setting for children and youngsters to be actively involved in taking care of the planet, by caring for a garden and growing their own fruit and vegetables.
TTG’s staff and youngsters welcome children from Hue public schools in the Empowerment land throughout the year, aiming to foster reconnection with Self, Others, and Nature. This is actively being implemented through the Happy Schools in Vietnam program, benefiting 2000 school pupils ranging from kindergarten to university level.
In recent years, TTG has opened its doors to students from Hue public schools, offering them an opportunity to reconnect with the earth and learn about caring for the planet. These students are guided and inspired by some of the TTG youngsters who embody a profound care for the earth in their daily lives within the community.
The Empowerment Project was born from the necessity to accommodate the growing number of visitors, allowing the biodynamic garden to focus on its primary goal of growing food to feed the TTG community. This dedicated space welcomes the increasing number of school students, empowering them to take part in nurturing the environment and fostering a deeper connection with nature.
The focus of the Empowerment project is also to empower our youngsters living with disabilities, enabling them to take on roles as co-facilitators and trainers alongside our staff. They engage with children, adolescents, students, visitors, and volunteers who visit TTG to learn about diverse topics such as ecology, biodynamic organic agriculture, sustainable living, mindfulness, social innovation, arts and crafts, and community life.
The Empowerment Project in Vietnam is a source of great enthusiasm for TTG. Some of the young individuals with special needs received their diplomas in 2019 and are now assuming their new responsibilities with a profound sense of awareness.
According to David Brooks’ article The Moral Bucket List published in The New York Times on April 11, 2015 : “Researchers found that senior citizens who didn’t feel useful to others were nearly three times as likely to die prematurely as those who did feel useful. This speaks to a broader human truth: We all need to be needed. Being “needed” does not entail selfish pride or unhealthy attachment to the worldly esteem of others. Rather, it consists of a natural human hunger to serve our fellow men and women.”
This fundamental human need is as real for people living with disabilities as for any other person; but more often than not, this aspiration to be of service is not taken into account when designing interventions for this kind of audience. This project is a pioneering concept that takes the field of social therapy to a new level, by creating an opportunity for young people living with disabilities to be of real service to the larger community and to address a very real need: reconnecting children with nature.
The Empowerment Project marks a significant transformation in social work at TTG. We have transitioned from a model where educators provided support and services to individuals with disabilities to a more collaborative approach.
Together with these youngsters, we co-create a vibrant social community, where all stakeholders actively contribute as partners in the journey towards personal growth and social inclusion.