Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Amazing Marula

So I got to visit another even more remote village and observe a leadership and TB training there. The chief and the whole village was there and it was a big ordeal. I learned a lot. One of the practices that is most harmful and difficult to change, at least in this part of Mozambique is a cleansing practice that occurs after a husband dies, leaving a widow. The husband's brother or another relative from the community must have sex with the widow daily for a period of time set by the local witch doctor. If this is not done properly, the declining health of the woman (who may have been infected with HIV by her husband, who in turn might have contracted it when working far away for months in the South African mines) is blamed on negligence of this cleaning ritual (sperm apparently has a cleansing power).  Actually, any subsequent case of TB in the village can be blamed on improper completion. The result of this is that HIV continues it's slow steady climb in Mozambique (not as common as in neighboring but still at a devastating 15% of adults). Since people living with HIV more easily catch TB, one result is that TB goes up as well, making communities more desperate to do anything to prevent it (such as completing the cleaning ritual, and so the vicious circle continues).  There is hope, however, as this community meeting shows. The chief of the village was an excellent leader, if all the leaders in Mozambique were as committed as he, the US would soon be coming to Mozambique to ask for economic aid.

So that was a great experience, but most of my time has been spent making a solar fruit dryer (I'll put up a picture when it is done) and preparing for and selling Marula products at local festivals in South Africa. The Marula tree drops hundreds of ripe marula fruits on the ground from December to March.  It's like a small plum with a thick skin. It has excellent flavor, 4 times as much vitamin C as oranges, and the large, incredibly hard pit hides two small nuts that have extremely high quality protein and oil that is nutritious as well as great for your skin. It could become the new health craze in the US, move over acai berry. It also makes great beer and a fantastic creme liqueur that is becoming wildly popular in South Africa and England. I even met an guy from Israel who said they are having good success growing it there.

I also got to drive through Kruger Park, one of the best game parks in the world. check out elephants, lions, rhinos, and more at my facebook photo album http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2135997&id=25711035&l=451b1

tis all for now

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