I want to tell you about moringa, a wonderful tree I came across in Tanzania. It is an injustice that many people don’t know about the gift from God growing in their home areas! Moringa is a droughtresistant plant and so nutritious that it could certainly help towards resolving problems such as deficiencies of vitamin A, iron and protein. Moringa can be used to help improve the quality of water for drinking, and in traditional medicines.

Sian Caldwell Email: siancaldwell@yahoo.co.uk  

Household water treatment using moringa seeds:

1 Allow the moringa seed pods to dry naturally to a brown colour on the tree before harvesting them.

2 Remove the seed shells, leaving a white kernel.

3 Crush the seed kernels to a powder with a stone or mortar. About 2 grams (2 teaspoons) of seed powder will treat 20 litres of water.

4 Mix the powder with a small quantity of clean water to form a paste.

5 Dilute the paste in a cup or bottle of clean water, and shake the solution for 5 minutes.

6 Pour the mixture through a tea strainer or sieve into a cup. It’s best to cover the strainer with a piece of clean cloth.

7 Add the resulting milky fluid to the water you want to treat.

8 Stir quickly for 2 minutes, then slowly and regularly for 10 minutes.

9 Cover the water and do not disturb it for at least an hour.

10 When the solid materials have settled to the bottom, the clear water may be siphoned or poured off the top of the container.

The treated water should then be boiled or filtered to make it completely safe to drink. Remember that all cups and containers used must also be clean! 

More information about moringa can be found in Footsteps 20 and 28, and on this website:

The right to sight

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Footsteps 66) says that everyone has the right to adequate medical care. We believe that everyone should be given the same opportunities to avoid blindness through access to high quality eye care. Yet many people in the South suffer from unequal access to healthcare and there is a great lack of qualified eye doctors.

In Cameroon, healthcare in 90% of our communities is provided by nursing staff, 95% of whom have no basic understanding of eye care. There is also a lack of equipment. People may be blind from birth or may become blind unnecessarily through ignorance or lack of early treatment. Blindness is a significant cause of poverty. After measuring the social and economic impact of blindness, the World Health Organisation set up an entire department to prevent blindness.

The MOJE Foundation produces a magazine, Le Cristallin, to raise awareness and share information and experience about eye care and preventing blindness. It is available in French only and is distributed free to people working in healthcare.

Jean Momo MOJE Foundation BP 1190 Bafoussam Cameroon Email: jean_momo@yahoo.fr

Shea nut

Our organisation practises simple farming methods. During the long period of the dry season (nine months) we work on tree planting and protection. Does anyone know of any research on the shea nut tree? It is one of the few plants which can withstand the savannah environment, but it takes such a long time to yield – currently fifteen years. Could this be reduced to four or five years?

Edmond Bawa Project Co-ordinator Bawku Hospital Eye Department Ghana Email: bawkueye@africaonline.com.gh

Glossary of words used in this issue

Find appropriate words in your own culture or language for these terms that people will be comfortable about using. 

abstinence – not participating in a practice such as sexual intercourse

clitoris – a tiny, highly sensitive organ in a woman that gives sexual pleasure 

genitals –the reproductive organs, especially the external sex organs

immunity – the body’s ability to resist infection 

labia – the soft folds of skin around a woman’s genitals

promiscuity – having sex with different partners on a casual basis

semen – bodily fluid containing sperm produced by a man during sexual intercourse 

sex – a general word relating to sexual behaviour and sexual intercourse 

sexual intercourse – the sexual act itself, resulting in the exchange of bodily fluids

STI – sexually transmitted infection 

testicles – the male glands that produce sperm 

vagina – the soft fleshy passage or opening in a woman used for sexual intercourse and through which babies are born