Picture yourself sitting in the warm sun on a wooden deck in rural Ontario, Canada overlooking a vibrant and colorful garden stuffed with earthy mounds bearing summer vegetables, lettuces, rows of lavender and wildflowers throughout. It’s a place you might come to escape the craziness of life, to take big deep breaths of healthy air and refuel the coffers. You are at the home of one of GoPhilanthropic’s Grassroots givers Magnus and Heather Kilian, lovers of gardening, passionate about growth, both of the gardening sort and the kind that waters the seeds of humanity.

Magnus and Heather have donated to GoPhilanthropic programs for several years. Two years ago they helped purchase 4 sewing machines for the start-up of a vocational sewing program with JWOC in Cambodia, a program that can provide the foundation for women to earn a living year round. This year they had remaining funds left over in their Grassroots Giving Pot and told us to “find a good spot for it,” as we traveled to SE Asia to distribute our GoPhilanthropic’s Grassroots Gift donations. We would like to thank the Kilians for trusting us in making that perfect match –we think we have found one that was truly meant to be.

Now picture yourself once again in a garden, the feeling of growth and serenity remains yet you are thousands of miles away. Simple thatched buildings are surrounded by colorful flowers and rice paddies, fluttering butterlfies and singing birds. Young women rock newborn babies and convene in groups learning to care for themselves and their young ones – everything from making their own meals, to making their own soap and tending their gardens. In essence, this place is about just that – learning to tend one’s own life garden. I am at Wildflower Home in Chiang Mai, Thailand, a temporary home for unemployed single mothers with young children and a shelter for unmarried pregnant women, many of whom come from refugee settings or suffering hill tribes.

What I learned from the Elizabeth the director, as she guides me down the mud paths at WildflowerHome past fields of vegetables and bamboo hut housing, is that the home provides way more than shelter. Here women heal from past experiences while also learning the skills needed to move ahead. It’s a delicate balance of pruning, watering, and warmth from the sun. At Wildflower they have access to maternity healthcare, literacy courses, vocational training. They develop skills in budgeting their own money. Seventy percent of the women come from agricultural settings–thus the program focuses on this as a foundation in order that they can return to their natural environments and live sustainably from them. Composting, soil regeneration and techniques relating to increasing crop yields are weaved into the healing and learning process at WildflowerHome.

When I asked Elizabeth how we might support the work she stops and thinks deeply. “The women are making lovely handmade cards. I am very keen on finding a market for them. Also, we would like to develop a healthy chicken coop. It is a great way for us to help in our own sustainability plan–our goal being to generate 50% of our food ourselves.” The Kilian’ s donation will thus go towards the purchase of 100 chickens plus a coop. It will also include training from a professor at a local university who is not only willing to come and teach the women, but will also provide interns to come frequently to check on the progress.

Wildflower Home fits in nicely to a growing portfolio of organizations that GoPhilanthropic donors help to support–namely programs rooted in generating empowerment and opportunity. We would like to thank Heather and Magnus Kilian and look forward to tending the personal connection made between them and this most special project so many miles away yet not so far in spirit.
See the video here:

GoPhilanthropic Founders Lydia and John Dean will continue to travel through SE ASia over the coming weeks to personally deliver the support provided by the year’s Grassroots Givers and to continue to identify small community-based programs providing solutions to global challenges. If you would like to become a Grassroots Giver please contact: [email protected]