Scene vi: Hard Work Yields Results


Seven weeks down, and our accomplishments definitely were evident. The walls transformed from monotonous burnt orange to a vibrant spectrum of hope. The fence divided the two sections of the lawn nicely. While we had started many items on our “to do” list, few were completed. With one work week left, we knew we had to work diligently, efficiently, and even harder than we had been. For the water feature, we needed to install the pump and fill the basin. The garden had to be turned with fresh soil we bought on Friday and then planted with seeds selected with help from the women. The holes for the dryer line posts were dug and the material was purchased, but no structure was assembled. Four tires laid in holes with balance beams connecting them, ready to be cemented. We were ready and anxious for progress.

Cast of Characters

WPI Safe House Team

Mama Pilisani

Safe House Residents

  • T.      
  • S.      
  • Q.      
  • V.      


  • A.           
  • K.

Actions & Observations

Today we went in to the safe house planning to finish some projects and advance others. We split up to get the most done. Jacob went to work on the water feature pump and began filling the basin while the rest of the team worked on the balance beams. We started by attaching the last tire to the wooden frame and leveling the beams. Upon completion, Jacob called everyone over for the initial plugging in of the pump and the first look at the running feature.


Fountain running for the first time.

The fountain was the first project we started so seeing it finally completed was a great success. After the excitement over the fountain we directed our efforts to finish the tire ladder. The top two tires were slightly more difficult than the bottom due to challenges with holding it up and fastening, but we eventually secured them. As soon as it was done the kids jumped on and climbed to the top.


The kids fitting as many people on the tire ladder as possible.

They were enthralled that they could see over the edge of the fence and to the area outside. Throughout the day the ladder continued to be popular and we are hopeful it will become a popular part of the playground. Once we got the tire ladder finished we got the cement prepared, once again with Golden’s help, and cemented the balance beam into the ground.


Balance beams in place.

The kids happily helped out as they had greatly looked forward to mixing cement. Once the beams were secure, we used the same mixture to cement the posts for the dryer lines. While the cement dried we went inside for lunch and to plan the garden beds. After eating, all of the women helped Julia plant the garden while Jacob and Chrissy constructed the drying lines and Jon and Sam removed a dangerous metal pole in the yard. The women were very enthusiastic and excited to learn how to plant the seeds and existing plants. They learned the names of the various herbs we had brought along the way.


Women spreading the dirt and compost in the new garden beds.

In under an hour the new soil and compost was laid down and all the vegetables and herbs were planted and watered. After the flurry of work in the garden, the drying lines were finished, the dangerous metal was removed, and the planned work for the day was completed with time to spare. Riding on our momentum we went ahead and dug out the holes for the stepping logs which we will put in place tomorrow, finishing up a highly successful day at the Safe House.

Reflection & Learning

Today the new garden was finished. It is a little smaller than the old one but it is truly the women’s space. Every step of the way, from designing to the last watering, the women were immersed in the process. They worked hard planting the garden and seeing them learn something new and be so happy about it, and knowing we helped give them that happiness, was a great feeling. When we first asked them to help with the garden, they seemed reluctant. They may have been worried because they did not know how to garden due to a lack of experience. As soon as they got started, they planted all five beds, enthusiastically asking questions and actively learning more about how to take care of them. They were exceptionally keen on how soon they would be able to see the fruits of their labor. V. excitedly declared that she wished to make a garden in her own home once she graduates the safe house. Tangibles like the water feature and fence will remain, but gardening is something that they can take with them for the rest of their lives.


Working with the women in the garden allowed us to learn even more about them. We found Sh. has a passion for gardening and did it often before she came to the safe house and V. is enthusiastic to start one on her own. We learned Mama Gloria is protective of the plants and seeds she planted and is excited to learn alongside the women and grow the garden with them. Having a long-term gardener living in the house may be crucial to the success of the garden.

Notes for Future Scenes

We were able to make incredible progress in a number of places. The clotheslines will need final touches once we secure the remaining line.


Constructed dryer lines waiting for the final touches.

We hope that the women and children keep up with the maintenance of the garden and take ownership of the elements created. The projects left include repairing the swings, removing old drying lines, and implanting stepping posts. The final work week is quickly coming to an end and the hard work of the entire project is proving to be more than worthwhile.

Scene vii >>