Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Mr. James Matipwiri
Before I became a CorpsAfrica Volunteer I had no idea what kind of natural treasures the world of living outside of a city possessed, until I arrived and began learning about the natural environment. One thing specifically has stood out to me in all of the amazing stuff I have been learning for the past few months of living here.
That amazing thing was the Moringa Tree. This is not an ordinary tree. It’s a miracle tree as referred to by many cheerleaders, scientifically called moringa oleifera and locally known as cham’mwamba. This plant is a nutritional hero, a superfood, an immune booster, and a drug to several diseases that are known to be hard to treat. My community has been growing this plant for decades, but its use previously was just for fencing homes and gardens. Its leaves and pods make a very delicious relish when prepared by locals with their special cuisine invented specifically for it. It is known that in the near past few people used to harvest its leaves for consumption. The indigenous people recall that it was preferred because of fast growth rate and adaptability to the hot weather here.
Realization of its numerous use and potential was made aware to me by my involvement with the Hunger Project Malawi. They mobilized people and helped them build an epicenter that acts a resource hub for the community. They came to help the locals solve their food security, health, and nutrition challenges. What people didn’t know years back was revealed to them like a joke. They now know and understand that the miracle tree should not just be used for fencing their homes, but also should be used as a food supplement for nutritional gain, a source of income, and several home remedies to combat chronic health challenges.
My community has researched about moringa and learnt a great deal about how to use it for their own nutritional and economic benefits. With support from the Hunger Project, they set up a group of fervent individuals that have found a way to produce powder from the leaves. The miracle powder has several uses such as baking cakes and local confections. It’s also used the same way as tea, applied to food like meat as a spice, and taken with porridge. There are no limitations as to how one can consume it. I prefer taking it mixed with my favorite drink “super-shake” .
One important discovery the group has come to realize is moringa’s economic potential. There is a growing demand for the powder and now it is being packaged to be sold in local markets and supermarkets in nearby towns.
As of now, thousands of seedlings have been raised across a number of nurseries in my community. The idea is to distribute the seedlings for free to members of the community to plant around their homes and for easy access. My community looks to the miracle tree as a solution to several challenges spanning from health, nutrition, and economy. They are doing whatever it takes to capitalize on the opportunity for their greater good.