Maureen Meyer will be joining us for the school year starting this fall to spearhead our moringa project. Maureen received her Master of Science in Geography and Environmental Studies in 2014 from the University of New Mexico, and describes her interests as “the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge with subject matters focusing in cultural/ human geography, physical geography, ethnobotany, and anthropology, particularly sustainable agriculture, medicinal plants, environmental conservation, and public health iniatives in Africa.” Maureen first learned about moringa when working on her thesis in the Commonwealth of Dominica, where her interviews with herbalists introduced her to its nutritional and medicinal value. She was thrilled to have a chance to expand her knowledge and share it with the school children and women of Bamenda by volunteering with CAMAAY.
She will begin by connecting with farmer groups in western Cameroon who have already been growing moringa, to see what she can learn from their successes and failures, and to purchase locally produced seeds. We have begun assembling a list of contacts for her to use when she arrives. Included in our list is Wylliam Nnemete, a teacher in Mokolo, in the far north of Cameroon, where, he writes, “Moringa is eaten a long time as a staple food. We consume the leaves, stem, roots and seeds. It is only recently that researchers have shown that the health of populations was due in part to the consumption of vegetables and especially Moringa. I personally experienced the Moringa tree, and since then I have less health concerns. When I am stressed by work, I consume the seeds and in the evening I take an infusion made from the leaves of Moringa.” Connecting modern agricultural and medical practice with native knowledge such as Wylliam’s is a key objective of our project.
Next, Maureen will visit the sites of last year’s school gardens to select the six best suited for growing moringa and begin working with each classroom to identify the uses and benefits of the various parts of the moringa tree, and to plant the fast-growing seeds.
At the same time, one of our virtual volunteers, Micaela Stevenson, a sophomore at Eastern Michigan University majoring in Biology with minors in Psychology, Women’s Studies, and Health and Illnesses, has undertaken a literature review of available research on hidden hunger among school children in North West Cameroon and of the best ways to measure it among our target population, and to assess the impact of our project on ameliorating the problem.