You wouldn’t believe how difficult it’s been for me to plant a few seeds.
That’s because these are no ordinary seeds.
These sunflower seeds were grown in Australian Quarantine from the seeds brought back from the MH17 crash site in the Ukraine.
You’ll no doubt recall MH17 was the Malaysian airlines flight, which was shot down over the Ukraine on the 17 July, 2014.
Therefore, these seeds represent each precious individual whose life was tragically cut short through terrorism and war. More than that. They strangely represent hope. Hope that their legacy will gone on. A reminder that love conquers the grave and they won’t be forgotten. Faith that the goodness in people will triumph over the bad.
Personally, these seeds have come to have additional meaning about sowing goodness into our young people, especially the battlers, and helping them to grow up straight and tall on the inside.
Many of the Australians who died on board were teachers. Teaching isn’t just a job, it’s a vocation. It means having vision and seeing the sunflower blooming in each and every child…even before the seed has been planted. Ideally, that faith continues through the storms.That can be and usually is a very challenging, but also rewarding, thing.
The Maslin Family, who lost their three children in the crash, started a fundraiser in their memory for children with dyslexia. Their youngest son,Otis, had dyslexia and treatment is long term and expensive and so is diagnosis.
Putting all of these people together, the sunflowers for me came to mean giving kids who are struggling to read and learn that helping hand to do their best. Reading might always be difficult for them, but even if you can simply give someone the capacity to read, fill out forms and read the day to day stuff, it would change their world completely. It would set them free in ways those of us without dyslexia have never considered.
For some reason, this has become very important to me. It’s become my heart. Not because I’m a writer and I live, breath and devour words, but also because I know what it’s like to be on struggle street, not knowing if you’re ever going to get out.
Although quite different to dyslexia, I was born with hydrocephalus which went undiagnosed until I was 25. At that point, my neurological symptoms spiralled dangerously out of control. I couldn’t put my finger on my nose, was falling over a lot, forgetting the basics and getting the sequencing of basic tasks out of whack in a way that was almost funny if it wasn’t so disturbing. This increased pressure on my brain obviously wasn’t good.
Yet, I was lucky. I had surgery and had a shunt put in. Over time, most of my symptoms have eased and if it wasn’t for the auto-immune disease, I’d be back on my feet.
There is no surgery or quick fix to cure dyslexia and other learning difficulties. I guess that’s what I like about what the sunflowers represent. That you plant a small seed yet from that tiny thing, big, bright happy sunflowers grow…yippee!!
On Sunday, a year after receiving the sunflowers, we planted 12 seeds in a seed planter and we had a little ceremony out on the back lawn, using an upside down laundry basket as a table. We had our stunning red climbing rose in full bloom as a backdrop. Nothing symbolises love more than a red rose other than a human heart.
If you would like to read about the sunflower seeds, click here
I was too anxious to plant the seeds last year. Actually, this wasn’t anxiety but more of a reality check. That’s because I am a serial plant killer and our front yard is currently littered with dead bodies following my most recent splurge. I always vow to change but my track record speaks for itself.
Mind you, sowing the seeds is only the beginning. Seeds don’t magically turn into sunflowers overnight. They require tender, loving care and that correct balance of wet and dry soil, sun and shade and exposure to the elements yet protection as well. My husband found the sunflower seeds inside the other day and said: “they’re meant to be sunflowers, not cave flowers”.
Initially watering the seeds in the kitchen sink. Overdid it a bit.
So, now I’m watering them with the spray bottle morning and night and have covered them with a sheet of plastic creating a mini greenhouse and am leaving them out in the sun by day.
It’s only been four days so far. So, still too soon to see any shoots poking their heads through the soil but I’m doing my absolute best to help them along.
I hope you will join me on this journey.
BTW if you would like to find out more about the Mo, Evie & Otis Foundation or donate, please click here: Maslins Set Up Dyslexia Fund.