After you had spent a couple days at this village, you and Lisa visited another village called Tuna’yili where there was a Peace Corps Volunteer. What was different about this village from the first?
This one was only about 500 ft off the main road, and there was a marked difference in the quality of construction of the buildings. In Sana’yili, aside from the main chieftain’s hut, there had been just freestanding huts, but Tuna’yili had clustered huts and felt like a compound. The Peace Corps Volunteer we met had learned the local language and was our translator while we were there.
Tell us a bit about the projects related to moringa that the Peace Corps Volunteer was working on.
She was looking to fund a project that would enable the villagers to plant a larger plantation of moringa. At that time, they were still working on getting the timing right, since moringa can only be planted at certain times of the year. Walking around the village we saw some tall moringa trees — 20 feet high! — that some families had planted for their personal use.
Did you get to eat any fresh moringa on the trip?
Towards the end of our time in Ghana, Lisa and I ate in a vegetarian restaurant where we had a moringa and avocado salad and a moringa smoothie. Of course, as we had learned in the village, this is not actually how most Ghanaians would eat their moringa…they tend to boil the leaves or add them into sauces.
Moringa and Avocado Salad
The last part of your trip was to Cape Coast, an area of Ghana that served as the final departure point for thousands of slaves taken out of Africa. How did your visit there make you reflect on Kuli Kuli’s work as a whole in Ghana?
We went to Cape Coast in order to explore and see another side of Ghana, and once there, the enormity of what had happened in the castle was undeniable. It really forces you to confront the history and legacy of the slave trade. Being there also helped us reflect on another — more recent — injustice that motivates our work: unsustainable aid in the form of 'free stuff'. This is why we feel so strongly about working with communities to create sustainable, fair wage livelihoods through moringa cultivation.