Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Mr. James Matipwiri
It was a beautiful Tuesday morning when hundreds of people from my community gathered at the Hunger Project Epicenter. The hot, dry day got my sweat glands restlessly draining my fluids into puddles of sweat like I just got out of a swimming pool. Skilled men and women came to showcase their expertise in preparing and cooking nutritious food. I had never before witnessed an event of that kind. Despite the discouraging weather conditions, the men and women leading the activities organized the necessary commodities, tools, and human capital to carry on with their goals.
A number of activities were organized, and these ranged from tree planting, moringa powder processing demonstration, and performances. I was not finding peace because of the stimulating nature of the activities and I wanted to capture everything that was going on.
Why food demonstrations? It is self-evident if you are Malawian living in Malawi that a considerable percentage of the children here are malnourished. There are several causes of malnutrition, but the most obvious and common cause is an unbalanced diet. The purpose of food demonstrations is to sensitize the community about the importance of eating the six food groups and how the food groups can easily be obtained from locally available food.
I watched and interviewed women and men responsible for nutrition in the community (nutrition animators) as they prepared different kinds of food; ranging from sweet potato, cassava, rice, scones, cakes, meat and porridge. The amazing part was that the food was not just prepared the conventional way, but in an ingenious way that it retained the best flavor and nutritional value.
The central part of the event was to educate people on how they could use the benefits of the abundantly and locally available moringa in their daily diet. Researchers say that moringa contains much of the nutrients our bodies need from all of the six food groups. It is from this view that if we incorporate moringa in our diet the right way then we are taking all the six food groups at once! And the good thing is that moringa can be consumed in different forms; some consume the leaves and pods with salad, while others prefer using the powder made from specially dried leaves.
Men and women presented the whole process about how their food was prepared and most importantly explaining how nutritious it was compared to what they normally consume. The demonstrations take place every four months or so just to remind the community how to take care of their nutrition.
It is clear that not all food can be prepared with moringa. This is why the nutrition animators continue to research techniques they can employ to moringa-ize these different foods. Once that is achieved it will become a new concept in the next demonstrations.