Getting Dirty. On Purpose.

The Story of the Moringa Tree

There’s a moringa tree just down the red dirt road from an orphanage outside of Jinja on the eastern side of Uganda. I had never heard of a moringa tree before. Not until I was in a van headed down the dusty Ugandan road into town to pick up some vet supplies for the animals at the orphanage farm. Joseph, the veterinarian told those of us in the van about the tree and the amazing health benefits that can be found in a single pod hanging from its branches. When I got back home to the US I looked it up. Yes, it’s true. The moringa tree packs a healthy punch!

I’ve been in the education field for a very long time, first as a homeschooling mother of my 5 kids and in later years as an educator within the pet grooming industry. I have seen quite clearly the value of education – the role it can play in the creation and shaping of an entire industry. Education can make all the difference.

There’s an orphanage near Jinja with 32 kids in need of nutrition, some arriving on the doorstep of the home in a rather malnourished state. And there, just down the road maybe 1/2 a mile away grows a robust tree with hundreds of pods dangling from its branches. The nutrients in these pods can easily be crushed into a powder that has the potential to heal the malnourished state of these children. But no one there knows of the mooring tree, this secret gem in the midst of banana trees, dropping miracle pods to the ground to die away.  Except Joseph, who was visiting the orphanage with the Call to Africa team to help care for the cows, pigs, goats and chickens. All it takes is one man teaching another who then teaches another until a whole village knows simple yet amazing things that change lives. How cool is that?

During the 2 weeks I was in Uganda, I marveled at the fact that such a country so laden with rich fertile soil, 3 growing seasons, and bountiful and delicious crops is in a state of such poverty. I inquired about this and learned that many rural Ugandan farmers do not have the means to export their goods to a level that would bring them out of poverty.

Of course, my entrepreneurial mind was turning flips and cartwheels, working out the obvious but surmountable obstacles that stood in the way. But truly, when we get down to it, what might be the first “how do you eat an elephant, one bite at a time” step to helping a man, a woman, a village, a nation rise out of poverty by using its own plentiful resources? Education is a tool that can make such a difference.

I have seen it first hand. I am not deluded. Education is not the only issue underlying such a huge problem. Nor will making a dent in one small way change an entire country. But I do know that doing something is better than doing nothing at all. I know that I can use my gifts and talents to do small things. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that sometimes it’s the very small things we do that can make the greatest difference of all.

I am working with Call to Africa to put together a team that will return to Uganda in January 2017, to minister through educational business training, working with orphans, delivering cows, and MORE! I am excited about this! As a team, we will have opportunities to teach, train, inspire, love, maybe pass out a cow or two (or more!), as well as visit the children and meet some of the needs there at Sangaalo. I’m starting now to raise that team and assist with planning out the specific ministries that we will perform on this next trip. I promise to chronicle the journey from behind my lens, just as I did before. Please join me, whether in person, in prayer, through donations to buy a cow or deliver shoes and clothes to the orphans, or simply by following my blog and photos, sharing your comments along the way. I hope you will join me, however you can, on this next journey to Uganda! Let’s get dirty!

Thank you to Ken and Clint and the Call to Africa team for making this next endeavor possible. I look forward to breathing in some of that Ugandan dust again as we bump down the road on our way to whatever lies ahead. Getting dirty. On purpose.

(PS. It costs $1400 to buy a cow and the meds needed to help keep it in good health. I will find out more about the specific needs at Sangaalo and share them with you in a future blog post. If you want more info about how you can help, post a comment below or send me an email or fb message.)

Thanks to Brit (@mzungubrittain) for the new hashtag idea: #getdirty
Please help me spread the word by using #getdirty


The cover photo as well as these below are of the “school” down the road from Sangaalo where the children begin their education. They have a dirt floor. And brooms made from grass to keep the dirt floors clean.