We began a collaboration with Development in Gardening (DIG) in the summer of 2006, and we have been working to raise money and awareness for their efforts ever since. In addition, the founder of DIG, Steve Bolinger, accompanied GC to Mozambique to aid us with our CAA Volunteer Vacation - as we both benefit by combining our expertise.
DIG has introduced new gardening techniques along with new vegetables such as kale and collard greens - to replace the more traditional (although with much lower nutrition value) cucumber and eggplant. The garden has been an overwhelming success, both nutritionally and socially, creating a sense of community with a gathering place for those receiving treatment.
We proposed DIG to “The Penitent Yanks” - a group competing in the “Plymouth to Dakar Rally” for charity. And they raised thousands of dollars for DIG through their efforts - primarily through a fundraiser at former Senator Tom Daschle's home.
After our collaboration on previous projects, we were asked by the White House about groups in Africa we thought Mrs. Bush may be interested in, and we immediately proposed DIG. In June 2007 she arrived to tour the site in Senegal.
Barton was placed among the Senegalese dignitaries to greet her to Africa and the site, while Steve gave her and Jenna a tour of the garden and they picked vegetables to help prepare lunch for the patients. She also met privately with some of the women affected with HIV, handed out over 2,000 malaria nets with USAID, and spoke of the importance of nutrition for HIV patients, as well as eradicating malaria.
Mrs. Bush’s staff was very supportive of Guerrilla Aid and our work, and their kindness was humbling. It is a truly strange experience to see a black motorcade pull up to see you in Africa, with The First Lady of the U.S. and First Lady of Senegal stepping out, watching the ambassador arrive, and see a year's worth of work come to fruition. It was an amazing day.
We owe a debt of thanks to Derek Booth in the Secret Service, Mrs. Bush’s staff - Cherie Harder and Anita McBride, and her press secretary, Susan Whitson. Susan has continued to be a champion for the work of Guerrilla Aid, and we are incredibly grateful for her support.