ECHO Seed Project: Interns Get Science and Technology Involved to Help End Hunger

10/26/07

Some say that the Moringa tree could end poverty. Its leaves are loaded with protein, calcium, most vitamins, and when used medicinally can treat many illnesses. The Moringa also produces pods which can be used to purify water and detoxify the body. Moreover, the Moringa is extremely resilient and grows in various parts of the world including India, the Phillipines, Brazil, Haiti, and West Africa. The funny thing is you’ve probably never heard of this amazing tree. Well, neither had I until I found out about ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization), a demonstration farm located in North Fort Myers, Florida. ECHO works to equip missionaries and development workers with the necessary resources to aid farmers in developing countries. Their vision is “To bring glory to God and a blessing to mankind by using science and technology to help the poor.” It was there, at ECHO, that I learned all about the Moringa and its incredible potential for those suffering from malnutrition and poverty. It sounded like the perfect tree for the people of Sierra Leone.

In 2006, I served as a COTN Summer Intern in the remote village of Ngolala (pronounced “gwa-lah”) in Sierra Leone along with a team of eight. We experienced firsthand the nutritional and agricultural needs of the villagers. After returning home to Florida, I knew I wanted to go back to Sierra Leone. Within a few months I signed up to be the co-leader of the 2007 Summer Interns alongside my former leader. Because of our desire to meet some of the needs of Ngolala, we researched information regarding sustainable agriculture. To say the least, we were overjoyed to find out about ECHO and that their farm was located just three hours from where we live. About two weeks before leaving for Sierra Leone, we visited ECHO and received free packets of highly nutritious seeds that have the best chance of surviving the tropical climate of West Africa.

Through COTN’s Personal Ministry Project (a program created to allow interns to meet needs they are passionate about) along with guidance from Sierra Leone 2007 Venture Team Coordinator, Arlene Raub, we were able to propose our ECHO Seed Project. We then called on the wisdom and experience of COTN agriculturalists, Andy Myles and Sullay Turray, to oversee the planting of the Moringa tree as well as six other nutritious crops including Tropical Pumpkin, Seven Year Lima, Winged Bean, Grain Amaranth, Vegetable Amaranth, and Malabar Spinach. The first stage of the project is an experimental one, to see how the crops fare during the rainy season. If all goes well and the plants flourish, they can be utilized in COTN’s Malnutrition Clinic, School Lunch Program, and Children’s Village. Also, the new seeds that are produced and their growing techniques can be passed on to local healthcare providers and others who are working to improve the overall health of Ngolala and neighboring villages. Personally, I’m not sure if the Moringa tree will end poverty worldwide, but I’m hopeful for its impact in Sierra Leone because of God’s work through organizations like COTN and ECHO.