National Council of Churches logo represents the church 
as ecumenical ship, serving the world


March 22, 2001, ATLANTA, Ga. – Church World Service will be in the spotlight here on Saturday (March 24) for its pioneering work against malnutrition in West Africa through promotion of the indigenous, nutrient-packed Moringa tree – also seen as a potential weapon in the nutritional arsenal against HIV/AIDS.

In less than five years, CWS and its Senegalese partner, AGADA, have documented the dramatic value of Moringa in treating malnutrition among infants, children and their mothers in Senegal. The prescription is simple: add two tablespoons full of Moringa leaf powder to cereals and sauces three times daily.

Government health posts now promote Moringa as an indigenous, affordable alternative to imported nutritional supplements whose cost makes them unsustainable for most people. Where Moringa is used, malnutrition rates have plummeted.

Now Church World Service is expanding Moringa cultivation across West Africa and beyond, and is laying plans for a formal trial of Moringa’s value in improving the nutrition and thus sustaining the health of people with HIV/AIDS.

Saturday’s award is from Operation Heart to Heart, a new, Atlanta-based non-governmental organization.

GIANT (Global Initiative for AIDS Nutritional Therapy), whose focus is on enhancing natural immunity through good nutrition, and the Nigeria-based Endurance and Love Organization are co-sponsors of Operation Heart to Heart, a multifaceted response to HIV/AIDS in Africa, beginning in Nigeria with a model center for prevention and treatment.

"The nutritional status of the individual plays a role in the progression of HIV disease," said Dr. Alawode Oladele, an Atlanta physician and Chief Executive Officer of GIANT. "We want to spread the word of Moringa and incorporate it into our program," he said. "When we go into an African community to talk about HIV, we want to talk about Moringa and nutrition, too."

Operation Heart to Heart will present awards to Church World Service and others at a Fundraising/Awards Ceremony and Dinner, beginning with a reception and silent auction at 6:30 p.m. at the Loudermilk Conference Center, 40 Courtland St., Atlanta, Ga. Some 350-400 people are expected to attend.

Others to be honored Saturday include former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, with the "Champion for the Cause Award," for helping corporate and government leaders break the silence about HIV/AIDS, and Dr. Helene Gayle of the Centers for Disease Control, with the "Pace Setter Award" for outstanding leadership in HIV/AIDS.

The Rev. John McCullough, CWS Executive Director, will accept Operation Heart to Heart’s "Capacity Building Award" on behalf of Church World Service.

There’s a highly interpersonal "story behind the story" of the Operation Heart to Heart awards.

Ambassador Young is founder and/or leader of a number of organizations and enterprises dedicated to human and economic health and development in Africa, including GIANT (he’s one of three founders and serves as chairman of the board). He also is a United Church of Christ minister, serving as President of the (U.S.) National Council of Churches in 2000-2001.

The latter has refreshed his acquaintance with the work of the NCC and its mission and service ministry, Church World Service. In particular, Ambassador Young has become an enthusiastic promoter of CWS Moringa work.

When he had surgery for prostate cancer in late 1999, he asked well-wishers not to send flowers, but rather to make donations to Church World Service for Moringa seeds. He also invited CWS to present its Moringa work at the African Health Ministers’ HIV/AIDS and Malaria International Conference he chaired in Atlanta in April 2000.

Dr. Oladele, GIANT’s chief executive officer, is Ambassador Young’s personal phyisican. That connection led to his participation in a visit to CWS Moringa work in Senegal in February 2001.

About the visit, he commented, "We were thrilled with what CWS has done in that area. They’ve done what others haven’t done, which is capacity building and empowerment, ‘teaching people how to fish’ and not just ‘handing them a fish,’ as the saying goes. Church World Service has the most wholistic approach – mind, body and spirit – and nutrition is a part of all that." That led to Saturday’s award.


NCC News Service Index
NCC Home Page