Posts Tagged ‘youth’

Moringa Day in Haiti

August 1, 2013

Written by Steve Carter – Trees for Life Board Member

In January of 2012, James Kishlar, the director of Agro-forest Regional Nursery (ARN), an organization whose aims are to plant trees, broaden crop diversity, and expand job opportunities in Haiti, contacted Trees For Life after reading about the Moringa tree on the Trees For Life web site.  We at Trees For Life were happy to share what we had learned about the Moringa tree and what we were doing to encourage the utilization of Moringa to fight malnutrition and assist individuals and organizations world-wide in achieving their economic, social, and environmental goals.  Since that time, James has made the Moringa tree one of the most important species he hopes to plant and establish in Haiti.

In a recent email, James reports on some of the efforts his organization is making to expand the use of Moringa in Haiti:  “Our Moringa Day was on June 5, 2013, a part of Environmental Day in Haiti. We were participating with the Haitian organization Programme National pour la culture et l’utilisation du Moringa- Benzolive : PLANDOLIV. Our part, which we financed,  took place at Digue Matheux and Barbancourt. The children were given Moringa trees free of charge to plant at their homes, with a guarantee from us that if their trees lived for one year they would be rewarded. We are scheduled to have a Moringa Planting Day, within 2 weeks where the same children will be planting 35,000 Moringa trees within ‘live fence’ sites.”

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Students taking their Moringa trees home.

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Young girls with their Moringa Trees

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Presentation on Moringa at one of the schools

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Young girl taking her Moringa trees home

According to James, over 900 students and teachers . . . from 3 different schools participated in the Moringa Day events, with some 2,500 Moringa trees distributed!  He used Trees For Life’s Moringa informational pocket brochure and is presently working on a Haitian Creole translation for the material.

Trees For Life is pleased to have been able to contribute to efforts at afforestation and bio-diversity in Haiti and we are proud of the success of Moringa Day.  We applaud the hard work and dedication of James Kishlar and ARN and hope that we may be of help in whatever way we can in the work of re-building Haiti and empowering Haitians as they create the future of their country.

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High school student develops low-cost water filter

June 14, 2013

Trees for Life has spent over twenty years promoting the use of Moringa tree leaves as a way to reduce malnutrition worldwide. Another use of the Moringa tree is the seeds as a flocculant; the seeds, when crushed, clump together small particles and pollutants in unpottable water. Read about this young scientist who has created a low-cost water filter using Moringa tree seeds as a part of the process of filtering water.

John Roach

John Roach , NBC News
March 6, 2013 at 3:26 PM ET

Meghan Shea w border

Meghan Shea, 18, from West Chester, Penn., holds up a water filter that uses seeds from Moringa oleifera tree that releases a protein that clumps together pollutants, making it easier for charcoal and fabric to capture.

A high-school senior has built a simple water filter using a common tree seed that can effectively remove bacteria such as E. coli and other pollutants. Distributing the easy-to-follow instructions on how to build the filter to developing countries could potentially save lives, she said.

“For people who are currently drinking contaminated water and don’t have access to another (filtration) method, I think this is really a step in the right direction,” Meghan Shea, an 18-year-old student at Unionville High School from West Chester, Penn., told NBC News.

Shea built a prototype of the filter for the Intel Science Talent Search, and was selected as one of 40 finalists convening March 7 through 12 in Washington, D.C. The annual competition identifies some of the nation’s most promising young scientists and innovators.

The finalists were narrowed down from 300 semifinalists and more than 1,700 entrants from around the country. Participants in the 72-year-old competition have gone on to win seven Nobel Prizes and 11 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships, among other honors.

Tree seed filter
Shea was inspired to build her filter after reading about the seeds from the Moringa oleifera tree, which release proteins when immersed in water that cause particles to clump together. The clumps, in turn, are easier for other filters such as charcoal and fabric to capture.

“They sounded like the perfect solution for water purification in areas without access to more sophisticated resources, because the tree happens to grow in a lot of regions where potable water is very scarce,” she said.

But, as she continued to read, she realized water filters based on the seeds had yet to become widely adopted. This was largely because the existing filters based on the seeds were “far too difficult for somebody in an impoverished region to be using.”

Her solution is a filter system made out PVC piping or any other material with interlocking segments, such as widely-available bamboo. Each segment contains a filter element — in her prototype, it’s soil followed by charcoal followed by fabric.

The crushed seeds go in the top segment, which causes the pollutants to form large enough clumps for the other segments to capture, Shea explained. “It is essentially using materials that aren’t normally effective and coupling them with these seeds so they become effective,” she said.

Shea proved the effectiveness of the filter with discolored lake water and water she spiked with E. coli bacteria. It worked.

Give knowledge, not devices
There are highly-engineered filters on the market such as LifeStraw that are 99.99 percent effective at removing all pollutants, Shea acknowledges. She doubts her filter will ever be that good. Still, for people without access to higher-tech devices, she thinks her solution is “a great alternative.”

Shea aims to convince non-profit organizations currently building large-scale filtering devices in communities in need of potable water or distributing individual filters such as LifeStraw to distribute instructions on how to build her filter.

“Instead of bringing new devices,” she said, “they could be bringing knowledge and disseminating knowledge. And if they don’t already have the trees growing, they could be distributing seeds. That would be a lot cheaper than a lot of the devices currently being used.”

Shea herself is headed to college next fall where she aims to continue studying environmental sciences and pushing for her filter design to reach its full potential.

Her focus on environmental sciences is a shift from a childhood fascination with sea horses and determination from age four to pursue a career in marine biology, though Shea said she is keeping an open mind to the myriad possibilities of a career in the sciences.

“I love research,” she said. “So as long as I have a laboratory to work in and problems to solve, I know I’m going to be happy.”

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Spreading awareness of the Moringa tree

May 31, 2013

Lanna raises funds for Moringa

What can two Texas 4th graders do to spread the word on the benefits of the Moringa tree? Why just about anything they can think up! Lanna’s QUEST teacher asked the class to come up with their own way to help, so she and her friend Shivani had a fundraiser! They sold candy, juice and cookies, raising $40 to help spread the awareness of the health benefits of the Moringa tree as far as Africa, Malaysia or Central America! Great job, girls!

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