Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Moringa Goes Green

It is often said that the first one to be served by service, is the server. It is true. To give yourself over to service to others releasees an energy you did not recognize before, and this special energy has incredible power. The power not only to reach out to others, but to reach within yourself, and feed that place in our spirit that is the wellspring of all the goodness man can do. It changes who you are, it changes those you service, and it tips the scales a tiny bit towards having the good guys get some help. The satisfaction of knowing your efforts ease the burdens of others is a richness that Jeff and I will continue to embrace in our lives.

The most demanding part is getting started. Even this project was an unintended visitor in our lives. We invited Abu to come to our home and to Jeff's shop, without even conceiving that an entire village in Ghana would be coming with him. But instead of reluctance, we let excitement be our guide and the adventure began.

All leaders get weary. The conventional wisdom that help should be supplied to the weak is one I would like to challenge. For it is the strong too that need the help, for they are the engines and engineers that make things happen. The Moringa leadership of Abu/Jeff/Linda are struggling under the strain. This is becoming clear in our household, but fortunately we do have a new volunteer that has signed on... our lovebird Chong is assisting Jeff with his proofreading his emails, as you can see in the photo. Birds are notoriously stupid, but a smart parrot is about as smart as they get, and we are desperate for help, so Chong will be helping with correspondence. You can see Chong already at work in the photo, he is the little "green" bird on top of the monitor.

So if anyone has felt they would like to help us, but were concerned about talent or ability--remember we have just hired a parrot.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Seeds for Moringa

Under the guidance of congregation member and long time Moringa supporters Milton & Louise Aldridge, the members of the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church of Midland, Virginia completed thier spring 2010 Moringa Seed Drive and shipped a box of 344 prized seed packets to the Moringa compound in Central Region Ghana on May 14th. The seed project was headed up by (pictured from left to right) Nancy, Savannah, Kinsley, and Sarah of this mission minded farming community church. Having learned about the Moringa project through his attendance at the J.D. Lohr Woodworking School in PA and also having witnessed the extreme levels of poverty that is everyday life in third world countries by themselves living overseas in the 1970's and 80's, it was abundantly clear to Milt and Louise how effective the Moringa project clearly was. It was therefore a quick decision to put their oars in the water for Moringa.

The girls pictured here, who meet every Wednesday at the church, handled the challenge of making signs and placing collection boxes at the two main entrances to the church to encourage members to purchase garden seeds as a gift to the Moringa Commmunity in Ghana. Several times during the three months of the seed collection project, the members of the church were reminded of the girl's project, and the members came through with the seed packets. A follow-up annoucement was made to the church members when information was received of Jeff Lohr's trip to Ghana earlier this year. This encouraged the members to purchase additional seed for a final count of 344 packets for the the Moringa Community project in W. Africa. In Milton's words, "It has, truly, been a pleasure for Louise and I to have been involved in this effort, for the Biblical scriptures reminds us of the importance of sharing with others."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


"All the strength and force of man comes from his faith in things unseen. He who believes is strong; he who doubts is weak. Strong convictions precede great actions."
James Freeman Clarke

Moringa is such a different critter. We are an organism whose viscera is trust and faith in our belief that this is the fuel that drives the engine that roots to an energy with endless power. For these strong, unwavering convictions carve out the sacred ground for great deeds.

Mythology has taught us that man has always believed that help from the universe will come, if you call it by the right name. We summon help in the name of the truth of goodness, reliance of character, and recognition that service is the higest form of spirtual discipline.
And we have received responses. There are those who have answered our call, have heard our unique voice.

Last week, a truck frighteningly overloaded, left Tema with five pallets of high quality machines lashed to the bed, to make the long journey to Breman Baako.

Somewhere in the Atlantic, a cargo ship is charting it's way to Spain. In the belly of the vessel, is a treasure that will not be unloaded in Spain. But instead, a few weeks later, make port in West Africa. And the food preservation supplies aboard will begin the quiet revolution permitting Africa to feed itself, one village at a time.

Several hundred years ago, ships came to Africa to load slaves to take to other countries. Hopelessness, poverty, misery, and greed were the harvest from the bad seeds these deeds planted. The ships that arrive today bring the gift of hope, the restoration of dignity,the promise of economic growth, a respect for opportunity, and relief from painful circumstances through generosity and good will.
A good seed, and thus, a good harvest.

Thank you for those who helped load these ships. Thank you for those who were courageous enough to captain these ships. And thank you for those who never doubted the ships would arrive.
Wait till you see what happens next...
Linda Lohr

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jeff's trip to Ghana - 2010

Having returned from a two week "working" tour of the Moringa Project in Ghana, my only fear with this entry to our BLOG is that I don't find the words to adequately express how truly important this project is to so many desperately impoverished, but no less deserving, hard working and wonderful people. Abu, Yusif, Rafani, Isaac, Sarah, Joanna, Sowah, John, Kate, Fati, Ebo, Hackman, Quaino, Bugier, Kassman, and easily over 100 other villagers, volunteers and workers that I labored alongside while in Ghana, I honor you and I am humbled by you. I am so very proud of what you have accomplished with the relatively meager resources Moringa USA has been able to find ways to supply to you to date. Clearly you understand and trust that you are building a future for yourselves, your children, your village, and your country. You could not be more deserving of our help.

Before I begin, I can say with certainty that very few, if any, Americans reading this entry can comprehend the complete lack of the most rudimentary resources on hand and available in Africa that we in America assume are just as easily available to all.

My leading photo will mean little to those among our Moringa supporters that are not woodworkers but considering the majority of our donor base consists of humble American woodworkers and carpenters like myself, you will understand this photo immediately and why I choose to present it. Note on this glue-up, we had to find some way to get it done, given that there were only two C-clamps to be had in the village. Nonetheless, we had to meet the challenge to devising a way to glue and clamp a configuration that needed 12 clamps.

Because I had the privilege of living in a country where we have public libraries, where I was given the gift of a public education, where information is free for me to find it if I am ambitious enough to simply look for it, I was able to meet this challenge. Because of the educational opportunities afforded all western countries, improvising alternatives to basic problems in physics is possible. There are no such educational resources in West African countries, even in Ghana with the highest literacy rate in that part of the continent. This is evident in Baako as the community and surrounding villages has no library. Even the local school I visited with a student body of 200 plus kids had little more than a dozen books that I could find and these books were spread between 8 classrooms with roughly 30 kids to a class. In my opinion, anyone of these fine carpenters could have done what I was able to do had they had even the most fundamental book of simple physics.

This is why I selected this first picture as a backdrop to set the stage for what I must tell all our supporters of what I found life to be in the Central Region of Ghana. Here are some quick examples: any kind of healthy food was hard to come by. A bed consists of a floor (or if you are lucky) a board with a mat on top of it. No doctors or clinics within 100 square miles, books are not to be had and the luxury of a piece of paper and a pencil was like a gift from the heavens. No post office in the entire district of 244 settlements. Few wells for drinking water. Electricity, even when available, is unreliable. Phone lines are non-existent. Shopping for consumer products is erratic and typically only second hand goods are available. Roads that were last paved by the British circa 1950, and not maintained since (except by local farmers who patch the holes), but more on that later.

Now try to enter that world, then look at what these wonderful people have built. By themselves, 100% by hand labor, in circumstances that make even the simplest of tasks difficult. And I have not even mentioned the punishing heat (temperatures between 100 - 114 degrees F during my stay) that makes even modest physical effort stressful and back breaking daily toil incomprehensible.

Nevertheless, the communal will of the people was harnessed under Abu's and Yusif's leadership and the power of hope was the engine, and when I walked into the village, I found this waiting for me. We had a vision that crossed oceans and cultures, and together we simply made it happen through one essential ingredient, "TRUST". How to express the emotions I felt when I saw that we not only had a dream, but we put feet under that dream, and what we carved out of the jungle was now the finest building in all of Baako. Our Moringa Community School of Trades.

I will post more information on my experiences in the weeks to come. Right now I have work demands so that I may make a living for myself and my family as none of our Moringa USA team earn any wage from our work on this project. For those of you that are already donors... Be very proud. You have lent your muscle to this project, and look at what was created. For those who now can see what we do and have done, join us, and enjoy the satisfaction and pride that comes from showing your true strength by lifting others up.

Sincerely, Jeffry Lohr

Please donate today to MoringaCommunity.Org.
You can be confident your money will go exactly where it is intended. Everything is ready to go but we still need $5,850 for 6 utility poles installed and get the Moringa Community Center connected to the main power grid.

Sidebar, Only Jeffry's plane ticket was paid by Moringa. All other travel expenses were funded personally.

Friday, February 5, 2010

BC High raises more than$1,240

The following message was emailed to Jeffry Lohr about a New England's High School's initiative to support Moringa Community!

Well, as we "speak" the Student Affairs Office is counting up the money collected in this morning's Mite Box for Moringa. We had a heck of a time yesterday: to drum up support and some understanding among the kids as just what it means to mill lumber by hand, we set up a "planing" station and a "ripping" station in the student Commons, right in front of the Powerpoint that you sent last week. Anyone who could rip more linear inches through a 4/4 piece of rough pine in 60 seconds with a handsaw than the Principal could (15.125") would win a "Get Out Of JUG Free" pass (JUG is detention after school..."Justice-Under-God", etc). Well, as the attached pictures hopefully show, we had about 50 - 75 kids over two lunch periods crowd around the two dozen challengers (For the record, only two kids - both seniors- beat the Principal). All in all, it was a blast!

Follow up message from Tony:

The totals are in for the homerooms from grades 7 through 12 and the event yielded $1,243.99!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Latest Construction Update

As Jeff continues preparation for the upcoming trip later this month, the construction of the Moringa Community Training Center is nearly complete.

Look at these incredible pictures Abu just sent from Baako, Ghana, where the bright blue Moringa Community truck is proudly parked next to its new partner in the continued development of this grass roots organization!

There are so many people to thank in the village for their endless dedication to making this cause a reality. For updates on the new staff and volunteers in Ghana, check our website!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rotary Club presents $5,211 check

Last week, founders Jeff and Linda Lohr attended a luncheon where the Spring-Ford Rotary presented the $5,211 grant check to Moringa Community.

Pictured from left to right are:
Jeffry Lohr, Linda Lohr, Janet Neff (Spring-Ford Rotary), Mike McCarthy (Rotary District 7430 Governor), and Damien Petaccio (Spring-Ford Rotary President). Not pictured, because he is the photographer, is Glenn Holcomb, who facilitated introductions of the project to various Rotary Clubs that supported the grant.

The ceremony was held at the Vo-Tech School in Limerick, PA, less than a mile from where the Moringa Community project was conceived. Moreover, the function of the Vo-Tech School is harmonious with the founding purpose of Moringa Community - to build strong and effective lives through education in the trades and escape hunger through their own industry and hard work.
Many thanks to the Rotary Club for their belief in our project!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Construction in final phases

Abu has recently sent more pictures of the progress at the Moringa Community Training Center in Baako. With the roof and electrical rough-in complete, the finishes are underway! The stucco coating has been applied and decorated with the traditional West African Adinkras (symbols of hope, and faith, dynamism, friendship, and interdependency).
Meanwhile, Jeffry is finalizing preparations for his trip in just a few weeks! Stay tuned and consider supporting the growth of this grass roots endeavor through our website!