Many people who have seen The Garden At The End of the World have been asking for an update on the progress of the permaculture work in Afghanistan with Australian aid organisation Mahboba’s Promise, who featured in the film.

Carrying on from the end of the film, the children that were eventually housed in the horrible building that contained ‘the basement’, were moved, after three years there, to a beautiful new building built by Mahboba’s Promise on the outskirts of Kabul. Mahboba named this new building Hope House. Not forgetting Uncle Haji’s original orphanage near the centre of Kabul, (which recently received a make-over) Hope House accommodates dozens more orphan children and is run by Mahboba’s brother, Sadiq.

Rosemary Morrow, featured in the film, has not yet returned to Afghanistan as she had hoped, however there are others who have  continued where she left off. Invited by Mahboba, Geoff Lawton, of Permaculture Research Institute Australia visited Hope House in 2007 and helped establish the vegetable garden. Sadiq saw the benefits of permaculture’s whole-design system and undertook a permaculture design course with Geoff in Jordan in 2009. On his visit Geoff founded the Permaculture Institute of Afghanistan.

“Early in 2009 Mahboba’s Promise purchased 5 acres of land just outside Kabul for the purpose of creating a permaculture site. It will be used as a training centre for widows, orphans, school groups and the local community and ultimately farmers throughout Afghanistan. We will establish a demonstration permaculture garden, a community garden and a nursery which will produce future income for the project. The objective is for the site to be self-sustaining within 5 years.

Muslim Aid Australia has generously provided most of the funding for this project. They have also had major input into the overall concept and planning of the project. The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia has kindly helped with the site design, training and overall consultancy.

“Construction of fencing, buildings, water storage and land forming is well underway with planting to commence late in 2010.” Ref, Mahboba’s Promise.

In 2010 permaculturalist Paul (Ringo) Kean went to work for a few months at the site for PRI.

The November 2010 Newsletter of Mahboba’s Promise gave this update:

“We are making fast progress with our plan to establish a permaculture model for sustainable food production and lifestyle practices. The land has been purchased and staff hired, including a Permaculture consultant who has provided the design for the farm layout. Soil fer tility improvements have been carried out and plant varieties selected.

“A well has been dug and, using a natural gravitational system, water is directed to the hand dug channels that separate the raised garden beds.

“There is now a cement water tank, which has been built to store water and avoid pumping from wells.

“The office has been built with a dining room, bathroom, shower and kitchen. Work has also started on the guardhouse, compost toilets, nursery, animal shelter and a mud wall, using local materials of stone, mud and metal. The focus is on making everything environmentally friendly with facilities for composting, no-dig gardens, methane digesters and earthworm farming.

“We have also started to run short courses for the wider community, empowering the Afghani people as they are introduced to their own traditional agricultural methods of water irrigation and farming.

“There is a strong focus on team building with local workers, community development, leadership and vocational training. Disadvantaged youth and mentally handicapped young men are also working on the project, empowering them with self esteem and job skills that can be transferred elsewhere. It is a safe and protective environment for these youths and the older men have become their mentors.

“We would like to acknowledge the assistance of Muslim Aid (Australia) with the Permaculture program. Without their valuable support, this project would not be the success it is today.”

Here is a link to a 15 minute video taken by Muslim Aid Australia of the progress of permaculture there. (Note that the time code says it’s over 30 min, but the video repeats for some reason)


If you want to donate to this project please got to Mahboba’s Promise website.

Related Blog: Social Permaculture

Click here for info on PRI’s work with Mahboba’s Promise in Afghanistan.