The tree that keeps a community alive

The red watering can jostles against Tinyiko Mambana’s leg as she moves through the small orchard, the water inside whirling around the rim before she lets it cascade over eager roots. Moringa trees can handle Hoedspruit’s arid soil, but the cool liquid is welcome. Mambana makes sure they get what they need – every day – because their versatile leaves sustain her entire community.

HIV/AIDS and other illnesses orphan masses of Hoedspruit children to whom the Moringa has become a lifeline. Its leaves, which can be used in cooking, are rich in nutrients and vitamins that build healthy immune systems. The Nourishing Moringa programme introduced Mambana and her fellow townspeople to the wonder of the tree. Founded by Sarah Berg, the initiative aims to empower people with the skill of subsistence farming, assisting in the planting of orchards and imparting knowledge that is crucial to their upkeep.

The Moringa has been used as a disease combatant and source of food for over 4 000 years. Along with providing the means to a healthier way of life, the orchards have created valuable jobs for the community, allowing the likes of Mambana to raise children and grandchildren. The blessing is generational. If they are taken care of, the Moringas will keep giving back, providing an alternative way for South Africans to access healthy living.