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Golda

Golda: Week 4

Ganesan (SST animator, left) and Baskar (SST CDO, right) clean moringa leaves to prepare for the training. (Ganesan donated the leaves for the training).

To follow up on the previous post regarding anemia as a prevalent condition in Padavedu and its surrounding areas, I have started a project training animators to make moringa powder. I learned about moringa powder during my training as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo, West Africa. When I got to Padavedu, I teamed up with a CDO, Baskar, who is familiar with moringa powder’s nutritional benefits. He is very knowledgeable about the medicinal uses of morninga. For instance, he consumes the fresh leaves to prevent colds.

The moringa tree is tropical plant that grows here in Padavedu. The tree has the potential to advance the fight against undernourishment and tackle anemia because the leaves are a source of essential vitamins and minerals, including iron. In Padavedu, moringa is commonly consumed fresh in soups and sauces. However, moringa leaf powder is not as commonly consumed.  By making powder, people can consume moringa during the off-season and sell the powder as an income generating activity (IGA). Making moringa powder is a simple process and moringa trees are abundant in this region.

To make moringa powder:

1. Start by cutting down branches of no more than 2/3 of the tree.

2. Cover the branches with a blanket to protect the leaves from direct sunlight.

3. Rinse the leaves to clean them of dirt and bugs.

4. Dry the leaves in a cool, dark place for 2 days.

5. Pound the dry leaves into a powder and store in an airtight container, like thermos that comes with a tiffin box.

Thirty grams of moringa powder contains 84% of a person’s recommended daily value of iron and powder can be added to stews, soups, chutneys, and other sauces without changing the flavor of the dish. Though moringa’s nutritional benefits are documented on the internet, the internet is not easily accessible to Padavedu’s general population. The availability of moringa’s nutritional information presents a challenge for people who have literacy challenges and/or lack access to the web. However, making the moringa powder is easy. It is getting people to try the powder that is a challenge. The process of health education is complex, because what people rationally know may be inconsistent with their behavior. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have only had fresh moringa leaves since I’ve been in Padavedu. It has taken over four weeks since I have arrived and I am just now trying to make powder for myself and others.

The animators are the frontline in the effort to increase moringa consumption in Padavedu. I will conduct a training they can model in anemia camps and schools that will be quick and (I hope) convincing. For this, I will need to use what I have learned at CUSSW about facilitating groups. To find out how the training goes, read next week’s blog entry…

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