By Rev SEIK PITOI
THE traditional name for this fine piece of real estate which runs along the mountains at the back of the Pari road and dips into the sea, is “Omote Koura”. The name in the local Koitabu language means “Valley of the Skull”. It was in this valley that I spent a lunch hour recently, sitting on a patapata under the shade of Moringa trees, enjoying the lovely sea breeze. My wife, Avie, and I were there to discus with a pastor and his wife matters relating, not quite to church, but to moringa!
Hailing from Kilakila village, Rev Hoge Rabura is a principle landowner. He resides at the valley on his own land, with members of his extended family. He is the Coordinator of the Justice and Social Issues Committee (JSIC) in the Regional office of the United Church. Apart from a busy schedule every day contending for the social rights of marginalised people, the minister is equally busy in his spare time as a moringa farmer. He and his wife, Marama Vagahu, told of their introduction to this special medicinal plant.
In 2015, after serving a term as pastors at Pendamon in Madang, the family was getting ready to come down to Port Moresby for their next appointment when they met up with a member of their church whom they knew to be a sickly woman. They noticed a change in the lady, Grace, who seemed to radiate a bright countenance and walked with a new spring in her step. Upon enquiring, they heard that she had taken the seeds of a tree called moringa for a few days and noticed a cleansing take place in her body. She talked about how she felt totally rejuvenated and was free of the ailments she had been experiencing. She gave them five seeds and told them to plant it on their land when they came over.
The family did as Grace had told them and planted the seeds. “I planted the seeds and carefully guarded them, making sure no one came near them”, recalled Rev Hoge, laughingly. “Now, I don’t care because the 5 seeds have become this mini-plantation of moringa trees all around my house”, he said.
It is from this grove of trees that Rev Hoge and his family produce moringa products. However, they did not have the luxury of having someone come to teach them how to produce moringa. They had to learn themselves by trial and error and by going online and consulting with other Moringa growers in other parts of the world. They purchased all the necessary equipment locally and from abroad and are now producing capsules, soaps, oils, tea and other items.
The couple shared some very positive testimonies of how the plant and all its parts have helped many people. Cases of TB, diabetes, chronic back pain, ulcers, arthritis, cancers and other conditions have been helped, if not cured. Many who were bed-ridden are now walking and going about their normal lives. The couple have also seen improvements in their own physical conditions and attribute it to the power of this special plant. Apart from its medicinal quality for humans, it is also beneficial as pig feed and is an excellent fertiliser for farming, not to mention the water-purifying property of the seeds. Granted, there may be one or two whose medical conditions may not make moringa appropriate, but for the average person, this special tree and its parts will certainly meet a physical and medicinal need in the human body, and bring healing.
I personally know many people who produce and sell these items but I have never seen someone as generous as Rev Hoge. For instance, his bars of soap cost K2, seed and leaf capsules sell for K10 per 20 capsules, and oil sells for K10 a bottle. The family is now into producing charcoal soap as their latest venture. Formal training is important and the family is prepared to send their daughter to attend a moringa producing course should that be run in the city. The minister himself has been invited to attend an overseas training seminar on the properties of the, miracle plant, as is it commonly known and will try to seek financial assistance to attend.
As a social worker, Rev Hoge has the welfare of the people at heart. This is evident in the generous pricing of his products, as well as the many items he gives away for free to bless others, while the little money he makes goes towards sustaining his family. Similar to the Chinese proverb that says giving a fish to a poor man helps him for a day, while giving a fishing net will sustain him for life, Rev Hoge gives people moringa products – and a pod of seeds. He encourages everyone to plant moringa in their backyard and use it to assist their livelihood.
This generous man of God and his good wife have a vision – to see acres of Moringa plantations being grown in the rural areas of PNG. He said, “I would like to see the government come on board and support this venture which will yield physical and financial blessings for our people. Our rural areas should have moringa grown throughout.” Rev Hoge also believes that moringa is the answer to the malnutrition problem in PNG as the leaves, cooked with food, gives more than the daily nutritional requirement that our bodies need.
Apart from preaching the word of God and helping alleviate social issues, this man, dubbed by some as the “moringa pastor”, loves to talk moringa. He keeps an ear open to hear from other ‘moringa-minded’ people who want to discuss his favourite plant. Maybe networking with others will take him a step closer to seeing his vision being fulfilled.
- Rev Seik Pitoi is a pastor of the United Church.