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CHILE: Nursing students create medicinal garden

Salesian Silva Henríquez Catholic University of La Florida

Project involves community in caring for health and natural environment


(MissionNewswire) The Salesian Silva Henríquez Catholic University (UCSH), located in the Lo Cañas district of La Florida, a suburb of Santiago, Chile, has created a medicinal garden and vermicompost bins in collaboration with students from the Laura Vicuña School in Valdivia. Nursing students worked with Daniela Espinoza, director of the school of nursing, and Valeska Leiva, an academic.

This new garden is called Weliwen (meaning new dawn in the Mapudungun language) and is providing medicinal herbs for the production of natural products. The seeds, medicinal plants and Californian worms to generate fertilizer were transported from Santiago. Plants were cultivated and harvested during the semester by the students.

Faculty of health services noted that the creation of a medicinal garden meets recommendations made by the World Health Organization (WHO) with regard to health and well-being, quality education, sustainable cities and communities, and the protection of terrestrial ecosystems.

The WHO noted that health goes beyond the traditional health care system and includes seeking to prevent disease and strengthen the well-being of the community. A medicinal garden at the school is a practical approach to empowering students and families to take care of their health through natural resources and ancestral methods.

“The creation of the medicinal garden at the Laura Vicuña School is positioned as an initiative that promotes quality education, health, well-being and environmental sustainability, by actively involving the community in caring for its health and natural environment,” said Leiva.

The goal was for the nursing students to acquire practical skills in phytotherapy and self-care while creating an educational space to reflect on the care of the environment and the role of humanity in preserving it. The project also provides a health service aligned with the mission and vision of the university.

Students who are obtaining a kinesiology degree built terraces from raw material to make phytotherapeutic products that were shared with the community. The technique used was “living soil” to control factors such as pests and lack of water. This technique is organic in nature and does not produce erosion in the cultivated land. Students studying speech therapy were involved in herbal product workshops using the harvest of plants from the garden.

Salesian missionaries provide education and social development programs for poor youth in Chile. Once finished with primary and secondary school, students can advance for higher education. Salesian technical schools cater to students who have dropped out of school and are seeking a second chance. In many programs, students complete their education while engaging in internships with local employers. This increases the students’ hands-on work experience and ability to gain livable wage employment after their studies are completed.



Photo courtesy of Don Bosco Green Alliance

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