A while back, I shared the saga of the Mission of Healing medications which were caught up in an aduanas adventure. This created quite a conundrum for the people who needed prenatal vitamins or medications to manage their pain and illnesses and frustrated our conscientious pharmacy team. In the end, everyone received what they needed, but it did further highlight the importance of our continued search for alternative sources of nutrition and medicines.
Historically we have carried medications in multiple suitcases in order to care for patients in the most economic and effective way possible. We have also consistently sought out sources for purchasing or acquiring medications in El Salvador. Cost has been a prohibitive issue, partly due to a lack of generics in El Salvador. Availability and quality are also challenging.
Yet, there are local sources of nutrition and medicine which were known to the ancients. Many of the men and women in the countryside know the uses of plants for healing, and some of this knowledge is being captured in the various botanical gardens* and by leaders in the Lutheran Church before it is lost. Other nutritional and medicinal plants are imported and cultivated by the Lutheran University and at the organic agricultural center Fe y Esperanza in Nejapa. This is not a new area of work for the Salvadoran Lutheran Church, but it is being reclaimed and expanded, and the sharing of knowledge about natural medicines has become an increasingly important part of the Missions of Healing.
Introducing...marvelous moringa! This was the feature plant for the 2013 Mission of Healing in Nejapa. We first met the moringa plant out in the field. A seedling grows into a tree in just a couple of months! The leaves can be eaten like salad or dried and made into a powder for tea. The leaves are high in vitamins C and A, and in potassium, calcium and protein. The seeds are high in protein and can be eaten raw or ground to use like flour. We heard testimonies from people who had good results with using moringa seeds to treat high blood sugar, digestive problems and a variety of health issues. Mostly, though, it is valued as a high nutrition food -- very important for people who struggle with food security. In addition, moringa seed powder can be used to remove harmful bacteria from water, creating healthier drinking water for people who live without potable water sources.
Pastor Santiago taught an ongoing workshop during the Mission of Healing days, and it was fun to see how excited he was about moringa. People seemed really interested, and they took seeds home to plant in their own little gardens or in pots around their houses. When I returned home, I found a web site which is dedicated to the moringa plant. Who knew??
Well, apparently the cashier at my grocery store knew and so did several other folks with whom I shared a little bit about my encounter with moringa. There is so much to learn about the amazing plants on this earth! I think it's time to plant some moringa seeds in a pot near my home to see if it will grow here. This could be a very good source of nutrition for families which struggle to find fresh and healthy produce in the urban desert where I work.
This year it was marvelous moringa...I wonder what next year's amazing plant will be!!