Windhoek Elizabeth Hilger might have missed the grand prize at this year’s 9th Bank Windhoek Women Summit last week but for this focused, down-to-earth businesswoman coming to Windhoek was not about winning but her aim was something different. As the owner of one of the finest lodges in Kavango East, Hilger already has cupboards filled with awards bestowed on her by the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN). She’s also won various international accolades as her business, Tambuti Lodge, on the banks of the Kavango River, was on numerous occasions chosen as the best in client service, and as one of the places where local and foreign tourists find tranquillity during their stay. Hilger was not an unknown person when she entered the room of the summit, whose slogan read, “Women Embracing Change for Prosperity.” In line with the theme Hilger tours the regions when time allows to inspire other women not to let their head down but always to look at the brighter side of life. During breaks at the summit from behind her exhibition desk she talked to and enlightened other women about a specific tree that “gave life” to about 110 orphans and poor children. She is also the founder of the Theresia’s Orphans and Vulnerable Children Foundation located about 20 kilometres outside Rundu at a small village called Mavanze. She has been running this orphanage from her own pocket and with some donations from a few donors. She also uses part of the income she generated from Moringa oleifera powder to care for the children who are less privileged. The Moringa oleifera is classified as a super food. The tree grows naturally in some parts of Namibia and parts of the plant are said to be safe for human consumption. However a check of a medical site on the internet issues a warning: “Moringa is possibly safe when taken by mouth and used appropriately. The leaves, fruit, and seeds might be safe when eaten as food. However, it’s important to avoid eating the root and its extracts. These parts of the plant may contain a toxic substance that can cause paralysis and death. Moringa has been used safely in doses up to 6 grams daily for up to 3 weeks. There isn’t enough information to know if moringa is safe when used in medicinal amounts.” Another internet site says do not try Moringa oleifera until you know all the facts. But according to her the plant is an energizing product that is said to help with healing and is said to be used to treat skin disorders, allegedly also diabetes, sleep disorders, anxiety and depression. It supposedly gives one a huge boost in energy and it is said to even out blood sugar levels, and allegedly helps one recover more quickly after a workout.The children benefit from the orchard where they look after 482 trees that produce “a highly nutritious powder”. “At the foundation we cut and clean the leaves than let them dry before we pound some into powder and sell the rest to our customers who use it,” she said. She said Mavanze village is surrounded with Moringa whose pods they utilise for various medicinal uses but an important use is to purify dirty water for drinking and washing as it contains all the chemical compounds necessary. Villagers harvest the leaves, seeds and pods and sell them to the foundation to be utilised for animal fodder or for own use. Hilger said that students from the Polytechnic of Namibia are currently doing research on the water purification effects of the pods. She claims the children under her care are more healthier than any other kid at school or at any home as they daily take Moringa oleifera in their daily meals. Hilger sat behind her table where she displayed the Moringa oleifeira leaves and containers filled with the powder and the pods. Also on the table were two bottles – one filled with dirty water and the other with clear water. In front stood many curious summit goers as the excitement grew among them to obtain all the information about the plant’s supposedly amazing health benefits. As she spoke about the product on the first day of the summit women took out their money to buy her consignment from the exhibition table within half an hour. At last she had time for the reporter and was free to talk without any interruptions. “Have you recently been hearing about the mystical miracle tree, or the tree of life?” she asked. These are terms that have been offered to describe Moringa oleifera. It has a number of amazing health benefits, according to thousands of scientists from around the world, she claimed. “Would you believe me if I told you that it has been around for hundreds of years, helping people to hold onto their good health, to recover from medical problems, and to jump start their energy levels?” Hilger excitedly asked. “No!” I replied. “Moringa is a tree and various parts of the plants are edible,” she said. She said some people use the pods in cooking, while others eat the leaves. “You can additionally press oil from the seeds, or eat the roots. The plant also has flowers, which are comparable to mushrooms.” But internet sites warned that the roots should not be eaten. Traditional medicine uses the roots, leaves and seeds in their medicinal recipes. “The leaves can be cooked like spinach, or they can be dried and used in soups or other recipes. The pods can be eaten like nuts, and the roots can be diced up and used as a sauce similar to our use for relish. Even better it grows naturally all around the world, it is safe to consume, and is a medically proven health supplement.” The tree grows even in dry and sandy areas because the climate in Kavango is perfect for cultivating the product. It grows quickly and does not easily wilt because of the lack of water or poor soil. Moringa oleifera is said to have four times as much calcium as you get from milk, three times the amount of potassium you get from bananas. Traditionally these are the foods where you think you get the most bang for your bucks, but instead, this supplement crushed the numbers in every category, according to Hilger. The leaves are said to have 22 percent the daily value of Vitamin C, 41 percent the daily value of potassium, 61 percent the daily value of magnesium, 71 percent the daily value of iron, 125 percent the daily value of calcium and 272 percent the daily value of Vitamin A. It also has 92 nutrients, 46 antioxidants, 36 anti-inflammatory agents, 18 amino acids and nine essential amino acids, according to some literature. Hilger said there is no value addition to her products as she is still awaiting a response from international investors on the proposals she presented to them to process the plant as a super food and a complete health product that will not only provide people with the vitamins they need, but also improve their overall health as well.
New Era Reporter
2015-08-17 11:32:58 4 years ago