Fund established for funding Moringa projects.
In March 2011, Kolda Region volunteers undertook a 100 km journey by donkey and bicycle, officially called the Kolda Donkey Rally, to perform nutrition causeries in 12 towns along Route Nationale 6 between Kounkane and Kolda. The project was a huge success, with 18 local health workers participating to educate 813 people on proper nutrition and the benefits of eating Moringa oleifera. In tandem with the Kolda Donkey Rally, volunteers asked family and friends in the United States to donate towards the Gardens of Moringa Fund, creating a Facebook community page and a humorous (at least we thought so) YouTube video.
The Gardens of Moringa Fund is a financing source for all Peace Corps Senegal volunteers for any project involving Moringa oleifera intensive bed and nutritional benefits training, as well as small garden and the introduction of new gardening technologies. Each small project will receive a maximum of 75,000 CFA from the fund (approximately $160), and must include 25% cash or in-kind community contribution.
Moringa oleifera has been rightly described as “the miracle tree” by the development community, because it grows and thrives in an astounding range of warm climates and is incredibly nutritious. Its leaves can be eaten fresh, or can be dried and used in powder form as a nutritional supplement in nearly all Senegalese meals. Gram for gram, moringa leaves contain 7 times the vitamin C in oranges, 4 times the calcium in milk, 4 times the vitamin A in carrots, 2 times the protein in milk, 3 times the potassium in bananas. It can be grown as a full-size tree, or can be grown with small spacing between each tree in intensive gardening beds for year-round leaf harvesting.
The Gardens of Moringa Fund is a model for sustainable development for several reasons. Firstly, the small funding amount ensures that participating projects and demonstrated techniques are replicable with local funding sources, as opposed to many large agricultural projects. Secondly, the projects focus on education and knowledge transfer, and not just the donation of materials. Thirdly, Moringa oleifera is already widely known by local communities, making it easier to encourage its cultivation and introduce new cultivation techniques, as opposed to introducing a completely new crop.
Overall, the Gardens of Moringa Fund received $1,998 from family friends, and hopefully a few anonymous strangers. These funds will be spent on the following small projects, which span the Diourbel, Kaolack, Kaffrine, Fatick, Louga, St. Louis, Tambacounda, and Kolda regions:
PCV Michael Goldman will improve knowledge of the cultivation and consumption of Moringa oleifera among the Sahelia Women’s Group of Velingara, Kolda Region, by providing a fenced-in gardening space for the women and providing a Moringa training.
PCVs Jessica Goza and Andrew Oberstadt will collaborate with other Kaolack, Kaffrine, and Fatick Region volunteers to perform a Moringa intensive bed tour of 25 primary schools in these regions, first showing schools how to appropriately cultivate and maintain Moringa beds, then returning to each school to perform causeries on the health and nutritional benefits of Moringa.
PCV Kim Hall will work with the Lumbelana Women’s Group in Lumbelana, Louga Region, to provide tools for their garden and to show the women’s group how to cultivate and maintain Moringa beds.
PCV Sarah Kopper will collaborate with four (4) villages in the Communaute Rurale de Ronkh, St. Louis Region, to start and maintain community Moringa gardens managed by local task forces of agriculture, health, and women’s group representatives.
PCV Sarah Legare will provide needed gardening tools for six women’s group gardens in the town of Doundodji and will train each group on Moringa cultivation and nutrition information.
PCV Dominica Martin will work with the Ngokhi, Kolda Region primary school and health post to plant and maintain Moringa intensive beds and fruit trees at the primary school, and will collaborate with the health post to sell Moringa powder at the pharmacy.
PCV Emilie McClintic will collaborate with other Louga Region PCVs to perform a tour of 10 health posts in the Louga Region to train health workers on Moringa cultivation and nutritional information. These health workers will then be responsible for leading trainings for 20 at-risk women in each of their communities.
PCV April Muniz and the community group Baol Environment of Diourbel will provide a training-of-trainers style Moringa cultivation and nutrition education session for village leaders and community counterparts.
PCV Michelle O’Malley will collaborate with a Richard Toll women’s group and the Richard Toll hospital to start gardens including Moringa intensive beds.
PCV Jacob Rice will assist a village economic group in the cultivation of a 740-tree Moringa plantation and one-hectare intensive Moringa garden.
PCV Evan Spark-Depass will work with the Diambo Soubalou Health Post in the St. Louis Region to construct a Moringa intensive bed, train local health works on bed maintenance, and educate local women on the preparation of nutritional porridges that include Moringa, which can combat child malnutrition.
PCV Cady Susswein will work with an already-existing community women’s garden in Kounthia Ba, Tambacounda Region, as well as establish gardens at the primary and junior high schools, which will include Moringa beds.
PCV Amy Watts will work with the primary school in Darou Keur Ibrahima Sagnane to establish a cistern at the school garden and establish and maintain Moringa intensive beds.
All participating projects were combined into one large Peace Corps Partnership grant application, which was financed directly via Gardens of Moringa Fund-designated money in the Peace Corps Senegal Country Fund.