Green Oasis Behind Grey Walls

June 11, 2015

Udo Stolte visits our gardening project in an Afghan prison for women


The child of one of the women tucks into the freshly harvested radishes.


"I wouldn’t have thought that as a man I would even be allowed into the women’s prison. But I was! Our co-worker Gudrun Göttler started a project a few months ago with 25 women incarcerated there. She is providing practical and theoretical teaching on the secrets of growing vegetables and flowers.  I watched as the women worked hard, planting up and tending the beds. Working with the plants seemed to give them courage and hope. The prison director is also pleased with the project and told me: “I’d like all the walls here to be invisible, covered by plants, so that it doesn’t look like a prison anymore but like one big garden.” While she was speaking, I noticed a young boy, a son of one of the inmates, tucking into the freshly harvested radishes clearly in great delight.



When the women are released from prison, they will receive from us some basic gardening equipment and seeds. In that way they won’t just return to nothing, but will be able to begin again with fresh courage. This project costs 22,000 euros a year to run. We are still looking for financial support for the project (Women’s Prison Project, Project No.: 6160)




Here some quotes from the women themselves:

  • “I know now that I’m useful for something – something that brings others and myself joy.”

  • “The work makes me happy, I’m not so aggressive anymore. I can release my anger through my work.”

  • “I know now that I’m clever enough to learn something, learning things is fun. Now I want to learn to read and write too.”

  • “We can eat the things we grow, and that makes me feel proud.”

  • “My children can watch something beautiful grow and not just see the dire conditions here. That’s good, and helps me to cope better.”

  • “Maybe I’ll be able to work a piece of land later and sell the vegetables I grow. I hope my family will give me a chance.”



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