April is National Volunteer Month. At AMAR, our volunteers are some of our most important fundraisers and advocates – donating their time, treasure, and talent to make our work possible. We are thrilled to celebrate some of our most devoted volunteers during this month, and are grateful year-round to everyone that joins us in our mission to rebuild lives!
For Katharine Harborne, longtime AMAR supporter and founder of the AMAR Supporters Circle in Oxford, getting involved with the organization made perfect sense.
“The more I heard, the more impressed I was with the work,” Katharine said, referencing her first introduction to AMAR via Founder Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne. “AMAR’s work impacts so many things that are important to me. I have always been interested in making the world a better place for people to live.”
Along with a drive to improve the world around her, Katharine brought to AMAR her passion for the environment. With a degree in Horticultural Botany, Katharine ran her own consultancy specializing in environmental consulting, corporate social responsibility, and conflict resolution on both the international and national scale. Through this work she spent years advising with companies, NGOs, and local and national governments on projects that celebrate and protect the environment.
Given her love for horticulture and botany, the opportunity to apply her unique skill set to advance AMAR’s work has long been a goal of hers.
“This was an inspiration to me,” Katharine said. “I would like to see the environment in Iraq restored to support its people”
This spring, Katharine’s hope of merging her passion for AMAR and horticulture became a reality when she traveled to Basra, Iraq to experience Iraq’s environmental settings first hand. During her trip, she visited the AMAR school in Basra and made a special visit to the “Katharine Harborne Garden” – a garden that she funded to provide the school children with a hands-on environmental experience. During her visit, she also had the opportunity to plant the garden’s first palm tree and went with the children on a special field trip.
“A whole class from the school visited a nearby plant nursery,” Katherine said, remembering the experience. “And it wasn’t just to see how to plant plants… but to actually plant plants!”
For Katharine the garden holds special meaning. She comes from a long line of gardeners, including her grandfather, who had a passion for gardening, and her mother, who still puts her green thumb to work. But Katharine believes that gardening can provide much more than a joyful experience.
“For the children, gardening is therapeutic and helps brings them down to earth,” Katharine said. “But it’s also a practical skill. Learning how to grow fruit and vegetables means they can feed themselves and their families. They can even go on to create horticulture and agricultural businesses and help rebuild Iraq – literally from the ground up!”
Katharine and AMAR have big dreams for the people and environment of Iraq and are dedicated to rebuilding lives as well as gardens.
“After many decades of devastating war, these types of projects, along with other AMAR projects like healthcare initiatives, we are not only aiming to win peace but trying to make the Garden of Eden bloom once more in Iraq – one garden at a time.”