Story about Ian and Jonas

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My name is Ian, after suffering a traumatic injury causing permanent disability, I had to close my roofing business. I could no longer pursue my passion for gardening and growing fresh vegetables. I walk on a pair of crutches and physically cannot bend down and work in any ground-level garden beds. It was the story of Jonas that gave me hope and the vision to start my journey with Genuine Grow Gardens'.

Jonas's life story moved and inspired me to never to give up and learn from a man who has forged his path through life from simple means and humble beginnings. A wise man indeed. Jonas is an African man who as a child, grew up in the African country of Malawi.

Jonas attended his remote village primary school for basic education. Although he enjoyed attending school, things were becoming more difficult for Jonas and his family. Jonas tended to his small vegetable garden at home. On Saturdays, Jonas sold his vegetables at the local village market. He gave the little money he earned to his elderly parent to help pay for his schooling. With few resources and inadequate means, Jonas, as a young boy found himself facing an uncertain future.

With village responsibilities and lack of money, his elderly father announced that it was time for Jonas to leave school. Jonas would have to tend to the family’s heard of cattle that grazed in the surrounding foothills.

The day came to announce to the school principal he could no longer afford school. It was Jonas's wise and gentle school principal who believed Jonas was too young to leave school and begged his father to reconsider. 'Mr Tembu' even offered to pay for another year of school out of his pocket!

Believing Mr Tembu could not afford to pay for his school, Jonas would have to plan. Jonas had a secret! Jonas had saved a portion of the money earned from selling his vegetables. Can you imagine Mr Tembu's surprise when Jonas presented him with his savings to stay another year in school? But Mr Tembu would not accept Jonas's offer and insisted on knowing where and how Jonas earned this money and Jonas had to explain. Mr Tembu was, in fact, suitably impressed with this young man and had an idea of his own.

Mr Tembu convinced Jonas's father that in return for teaching his classmates how to grow their fruit and vegetables, Jonas could stay the extra year at school. Mr Tembu would pay for his schooling. After all, the school had the ideal piece of ground on which to start a garden. A dry, unused football field would be the perfect place to start their own rural 'vegetable farm'. And so, Jonas's journey began.

It was not an easy task to begin. The excitement and novelty of a productive fruit and vegetable garden soon faded when many of the students learned that much hard work first had to be done. Not being someone to give up easily Jonas and a few of his dedicated school friends persisted with hand hoes, elbow grease and determination. Word spread about Chengelu Secondary School's garden project, and many neighbouring school principals and students came to watch and learn. A missionary organization offered to donate the required fruit and vegetable seeds.

When the summer rains fell, the fertile water-soaked soil began to produce 'the fruits of their labour'. Some other sceptical students and parents now believed this was indeed a worthwhile endeavour.

Before long, the once barren and unused football field became a lush green fruit and vegetable producing Eden. The necessary school kitchen was once again functional. Chengelu's garden was able to provide students and teachers with a nourishing plate of food for lunches, and there remained enough to take home for their village families. Then came the bad news for Jonas!

It was summer season in December in Malawi, the sun shone high in the sky, the rains were plentiful, and their vegetable harvest was bountiful. With a heavy heart, Mr Tembu had to inform Jonas that the school had to close for their December vacation. Mr Tembu had to attend to his own family in a distant village and the plants and produce would have to be abandoned to nature. What else could they do?

Our hero Jonas asked Mr Tembu to entrust him with the school keys. Jonas would look after the field on condition that he could sell the schools fresh produce at the village market. Of course, Mr Tembu agreed.

Imagine Mr Tembu's surprise on the opening day of school the following January when he found Jonas waiting in the reception of Chengelu's school office. Jonas presented Mr Tembu with the money earned from Chengelu Secondary schools 'football' field to pay his entire previous year's school fees. Jonas had also made enough profit to pay his schooling for the next year.

Years later, after making his way across two neighbouring countries to study welding, I crossed Jonas's path in my country, South Africa. I had met my inspiration and a made a new friend named Jonas.

Thank you, Jonas,