In addition to our initiatives in Aquaponics, Los Rayos de Esperanza will  also be undertaking two additional projects in sustainability in the near future.

 

Eco-Stoves

 

Currently, the vast majority of families in Nicaragua cook over an open fire (wood placed on top of rocks).  While this sounds charming and fun, it is anything but fun when one is forced to breathe in the smoke day after day and partake in the extra labor caused by cooking this way.  The smoke is made up of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles that get into the eyes where they cause burning, and into the respiratory system where they cause bronchitis.  This smoke also aggravates chronic heart and lung diseases and is even linked to premature deaths in people suffering from these conditions.  Indeed, respiratory problems are the leading cause of death in children under the age of five.  Eco-stoves help eliminate these dangers by concentrating and insulating the heat and giving off less smoke.

In addition to improving the health of the users, eco-stoves also help reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, help save trees, and consequently protect against deforestation.

Eco-stoves, which are designed and manufactured by local Nicaraguans and therefore provide jobs, are made from clay, a natural resource that is plentiful in Nicaragua.  They burn 10X more efficiently than the customary rock based fires used by most families and thus the food cooks faster.  They are stable, portable and inexpensive.

Los Rayos de Esperanza and Bless Back Worldwide are concerned about the health of the Nicaraguan people.  We also have an eye toward the longevity of the life of children and of future generations of families to come.  We desire to improve the quality of life for everybody, starting with those who exhibit the most need.

Our project involves identifying the families with members who have serious health concerns and supplying them with an eco-stove by either gifting them with one, if they are unable to work for health reasons, or giving them a micro-loan to purchase one and pay it back over time, if there is an able-bodied worker in the family.

 

Moringa Trees

 

Imagine a tree in your backyard that will meet almost all of your nutritional needs, cure many of your ailments, and even purify your water for you.  This tree actually exists; it is called the Moringa tree, and can easily be grown in Nicaragua.  Virtually every part of the tree can be used.  This tree, though little known in the U.S., is nutritional dynamite. There are literally hundreds of uses for this tree.

  • The pods are the most valued and widely used of all the tree parts, especially when they are young.  The pods are extremely nutritious, containing all essential amino acids along with many vitamins and other nutrients.  They can be eaten raw or prepared like peas or green beans.  The pods also give an edible oil known as Ben Oil. This oil that never dries is clear, sweet and odorless, and never spoils. Overall, its nutritional value is similar to olive oil.
  • The leaves are eaten alone as greens, in salads, in vegetable stir frys, and are also used for seasoning.  Leaves and young branches are also healthy, nutritional food for livestock.
  • The flowers, which must be cooked, are eaten either mixed with other foods or fried in batter and have been shown to be rich in potassium and calcium.
  • The Bark yields a coarse fiber to make fabric.

In developing tropical countries, Moringa trees have been used to combat malnutrition, especially among infants and nursing mothers.  Leaves can be eaten fresh, cooked, or stored as dried powder for many months without refrigeration, and without loss of nutritional value.  Analyses of the leaf composition have revealed them to have significant quantities of vitamins A, B and C, calcium, iron and protein.  Gram for gram, Moringa leaves contain: seven times the vitamin C as in oranges, four times the Calcium as in milk, four times the vitamin A as in carrots, two times the protein that is in milk and three times the Potassium as in bananas. 

 Los Rayos de Esperanza plans to spread the news of this “miracle tree” throughout southwest Nicaragua and invites volunteers to come and help us plant the trees throughout the region.  We will also offer classes to communities to teach the uses of the tree and how to include preparation of the pods, leaves and flowers in their daily cooking routines.