A Phone Call from Ghana

Ring, ring…. “Hello?”

“Hello, it’s Newton from Ghana! The world just got a lot smaller…”

So began my Skype conversation yesterday with Newton Amaglo, one of Spirit in Action’s partners in Kumasi, Ghana. Using Skype to “call” me for free online, Newton could see and hear me in real time! It was an exciting experience to hear his voice and catch a quick update on his work growing Moringa plants.

SIA Board member, John Bayer, recently returned from a trip to Senegal and has been enthusiastically networking to see how Moringa might be used in prisons there. John wrote in an email, “We visited the prison while we were there and were shocked at the really terrible conditions with the 700 inmates all living in very cramped facilities with only one meal a day unless they had families in the area to bring them food in the afternoons. Many were malnourished and some were suffering from skin disease/parasites from the very thin infested mattresses they slept on. Don’t need to go on for you to see the huge need here. All I can think of is Newton Amaglo and the Moringa leaf powder and the results he has had, especially with the prison inmates.

In July 2010, I wrote about how Newton and others on his research team used a SIA Community Grant to train prison employees to grow Moringa. This fast growing and important nutritional supplement can be added to the food of the inmates in the prison infirmaries to great benefit.

Yesterday, Newton told me that they recently trained two more prison employees to grow and process the Moringa. Together, they are building a drier to dry the Moringa leaves, and a mill to grind them into a fine powder to add to the inmates’ soup.

The most efficient way to grow Moringa is in a densely packed square-foot garden and in one season the plants can grow 7 meters (23 ft) over a number of harvests! Above is a picture of one of the researchers demonstrating how to cut the leaves and still keep the plant alive.

Newton said that the prisons all had garden plots that had fallen into disuse. With the gift of training and Moringa seedlings, Newton has since seen a revived interest in gardening at the prisons. He is hopeful that more people will discover the immense health benefits of Moringa and use it more often as a food supplement.

Spirit in Action’s mission is to create a “worldwide network” and this connection between Senegal and Ghana is just part of it – and the Skype call with Newton Amaglo helped that worldwide network feel a little bit more close-knit!

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4 Responses to “A Phone Call from Ghana”

  1. Boyd March 17, 2011 11:23 am
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    A question about Moringa: is it an indigenous to Ghana? Or is there a danger of it becoming an invasive non-native?

  2. TanyaCothran March 17, 2011 2:11 pm
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    Good question, Boyd! I found that the Moringa tree is native to India but it has been in many parts of Africa and the Caribbean for over 100 years.

    I didn’t find any reports of Moringa becoming an invasive species and I think this is because it is a cultivated crop, usually contained to small area. If anyone else has information about this, please post your comments here!

  3. Donna Thomas March 18, 2011 5:55 pm
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    I was curious about the plant also. What kind of nutrition does it offer? It’s weird to have never heard of it before. Nice to see productive work for prisoners. Congrats Tanya on new and improved communications!

  4. admin March 20, 2011 6:32 pm
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    The moringa plant is highly nutritious, Donna! It has vitamin C & A, protein, potassium, and calcium. I found more information from Trees for Life: http://www.treesforlife.org/our-work/our-initiatives/moringa/introduction/the-moringa-tree

    I’m not sure why it hasn’t caught on with the health movement here in the US. I know there are places here where you can buy it. And thanks, it was exciting to work with Skype to communicate with people half way around the world, and have face-to-face interactions!

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