sister moringa

“Where are you going, Sister Moringa?” Wahabo asks as I pass him on the way to the dam.
Sister Moringa kind of sounds like Sister Mooriah, which most call me here in Sankpala. Interchangeable with Sister Mariah, Sister Miriam, Madame, and my favorite, Wuntera. The reason Wahabo calls me Sister Moringa is because for the past few weeks, I have been in the very beginning stages of bringing moringa to Sankpala, otherwise known as The Miracle Tree. It’s what all the cool PCV’s are doing.

You can use every part of the moringa tree, from the roots, to the bark and seeds. But it is the leaves that store incredible medicinal and nutritional value. It is said to have more nutrition than any other one vegetable. It is packed full of protein, which is the nutrient most lacking in diet here, especially among pregnant mommies and the kids. So, I can try to convince a few hundred families to buy eggs and chicken, which they will never be able to afford. Or I can Johnny-Moringa-Seed, and spread the word that this little tree can drastically improve the health of families here. The prospect is very exciting, but it is going to be a lot of work.

First I have to plant the moringa. People, are we forgetting that I’m from the land of concrete? What does this Queens-bred girl know about planting (hundreds of) trees? My dad still won’t let go when I forgot to water his tomatoes while he was in Florida that one fateful summer a few years back (I know daddy, I really am sorry). So I gave each of my health club students a seed and wished them luck. “So, do we crack it from the shell? Do we soak the seed over night? How long until it germinates?” Oh, Lord if I know, you guys are the farmers. Just keep it away from the goats. I have planted 10 myself, in little plastic sachets. Only one has grown. C'est la vie.

We will be planting them at the school and we have already started to put up fences. I thought the fences would be the easy part (ok, guys, bring garden sticks and build your own fence), but between Avi John, the primary headmaster, Kamal and myself, there were far too many cooks in the kitchen, and by the end of the day we had only built two small fences. School is on break right now, so it is hard enough getting my students to come out, especially to do more farming than they have been doing all day. But by the end of May, we are hoping to have about 80 little trees in their little fences, 40 for the primary and 40 for the JSS. We will then plant another 50 or so at the clinic.

Once the clinic and the health club get the hang of taking care of moringa trees, we will start the process of giving out seeds and educating the community about planting, taking care of, and the tons of uses of moringa. This probably won’t happen for another year. There are even organizations that will be able to come and give cooking demos with moringa. If all goes well, this may even be another source of income for women here, they can sell the dried leaves or seeds at market easily.

So, friends, just another project I will be working on while I am here. I’ll keep you updated.

PS. Update on Commander. He was whisked away to Tamale, finally, because he wasn’t taking his Guinea Worm seriously. Sakara informed me this morning that he hopped on a tro and is hiding somewhere in Sankpala. Good grief.


Joy said…
Oh Maria - this is so you. You are still an amazing writer, which I know probably wasn't your goal, but it still shone through. Thank you for sharing this!

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