There’s a tree that grows all over Timor-Leste called Marungi or Morgina (Moringa oleifera). It also grows across Asia, Africa and South America, although it is native to India. It’s called the miracle tree or the tree of life. Why? Because every part of this tree is packed with vitamins. The bark, seeds, flowers and leaves are super-rich in nutrients.

Its leaves, flowers, pods and roots are edible. And because the pod is shaped like a drumstick, it is often known by that name too. The leaves are high in nutrition. The flowers, available for a short time each year, taste similarly to mushroom and are often cooked with egg. The bark is used for its medicinal qualities and the roots can also be eaten. The fruit is fleshy and is also cooked.

The drumstick tree is drought tolerant and grows in arid regions through to the tropics. It will tolerate some frosts and grows from both cuttings and seed. The tree is one of those that needs little maintenance. it needs protection from the cold, and water in summer.

Why is Moringa called “the miracle tree”?
Here’s why. It has:

7 times the Vitamin C of oranges
4 times the vitamin A of carrots
4 times the calcium in milk
3 times the potassium in a banana
2 times the protein of yogurt

The Carmelite Sisters in Timor-Leste are manufacturing a range of foods by mixing various vegetables with Moringa– cooking, drying, then grinding the mixture into powder. This extremely rich supplement can be sprinkled on other foods, making meals more nutritious.

The project is underway in the kitchen that ATLAS donors built at the Maubara orphanage, and the children are taught the process. They will be able to use the readily available Moringa tree for the rest of their lives.

Thank you to all ATLAS donors for supporting this programme.