Sunday, February 22, 2009

Moringa

On Friday, we went to Tambankulu for the day. Teresa went with Jabulani into Maphiveni to visit CHIPS children and caregivers. Jabulani wanted to visit those who are getting ready to start ARV's and those who have just started to encourage them, and one more time, talk to them about adherence (taking the meds at the prescribed times every day (at least until there is a cure for HIV). Teresa really enjoys getting to visit at the homesteads and meet with the families one on one. It is a good chance to minister and pray with them.
An ongoing problem is improving nutrition for those who are HIV+ and starting on ARV's as well as the whole community in general. We have been asked if we will provide food to those in the CHIPS program. Besides not having the resources to give out food, this is really a non-sustainable and counter productive effort to promote nutrition. While a help in the short term, handing out food will never be a long term solution to the needs here.
We've come across another organization here (SwaziAid) that is introducing another approach in Swaziland. A multipurpose tree called Moringa is being introduced in several areas here. The leaves of the tree are highly nutritious and when used as a food supplement, can greatly help the nutrition value of the staple diet (a fine ground corm meal called pap).
The country rep for SwaziAid (Thokozane) accompanied us on Friday from Mbabane. We planted a "high density" 5mx5m plot of the seeds at Pastor Duarte's garden in Tambankulu on Friday. Hoping all the seeds germinate, in three months we should have meter tall trees that we can start harvesting the leaves from. Once dried and powdered, we'll introduce the powder as a food supplement in the communities CHIPS is working in. In time and as demand increases, we hope to be able to introduce the trees into the community so they can grow them themselves. As another positive by-product, this could also be a means to generate income for the homesteads as they can sell surplus powdered leaves and seeds (which are also a good source for cooking oil).
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