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1999 NCC News Archives

Andrew Young Requests "Moringa Tree Seedlings, Not Flowers"

December 15, 1999, NEW YORK CITY – "In lieu of flowers, please donate Moringa tree seedlings." That was former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young's message to his friends and colleagues shortly before entering the hospital Tuesday (Dec. 14) for surgery for prostate cancer.

Ambassador Young – whose surgery went well, and who on January 1 becomes President of the National Council of Churches (NCC) – is asking that well-wishers make their donations for Moringa tree seedlings through Church World Service, the NCC's humanitarian assistance ministry.

Widely known for its nutritional and medicinal value, the Moringa tree originated in India and grows well in West Africa, where Church World Service is fostering its use as a valuable resource against malnutrition and associated diseases. The tree grows quickly from seed or cuttings, reaching a height of 12 feet within the first year, and provides protein, calcium, minerals, iron and several important vitamins to malnourished children.

To donate Moringa tree seedlings, call 1-800-297-1516 x222 or visit the Church World Service Web site at http://www.churchworldservice.org.

Ambassador Young, former Mayor of Atlanta who is now Chairman of GoodWorks International in Atlanta, Ga., made his request in a pre-surgery news release and announced it during his first meeting with NCC staff, Dec. 13 in New York. He will serve for two years as the NCC's president, a part-time, unsalaried but nevertheless high profile leadership position with the nation's leading ecumenical organization.

The NCC has 35 Protestant and Orthodox member communions with 52 million congregants in all. Church World Service provides emergency response, human development and refugee assistance in more than 80 countries around the world, including the United States.

In late September, Ambassador Young was diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer.

The cancer was detected after a routine PSA (prostate specific antigen) screening. He said in October that he wanted to make his diagnosis public in part "to encourage middle-aged and older men to have regular prostate screenings, and to do everything they can to lead a healthy and spiritually fulfilling life." In particular, African American men experience a higher incidence of prostate cancer.

On Wednesday morning, Ambassador Young's spokesperson, Lee Echols, reported that the surgery went well with "no obvious spread of cancer beyond the prostate gland, which was removed. According to his physicians, everything at this point is right on course.

"Andy is in good spirits today and he has been enjoying some private time in his hospital room," and was up for a walk in his room this morning, Mr. Echols reported. "The big challenge will be to keep Andy contained so that he can in fact relax and recuperate appropriately," he said, reporting news media interest in the fact that Ambassador Young was in New York City to meet with NCC staff the day before his surgery.

More About the Moringa Tree …

The Moringa tree originated in India and was brought to Africa by people from Asia, who used it as a source of food and for medicinal purposes. The Moringa tree grows quickly, can withstand drought, and two seed pod harvests can be produced in one year.

No part of the Moringa is wasted. Leaves contain a very high content of protein; calcium; minerals; iron; and vitamins A, B, and when raw, vitamin C. Mixing just 2-3 teaspoons of dried Moringa leaf powder into sauces provides significant nutritional value to children in high malnutrition areas.

Moringa flowers may be used to make a tea that is useful for treating colds. Seeds in the green pods can be roasted and eaten like peanuts. When the pods turn brown, the seeds can be crushed to obtain an oil comparable to olive oil that can be used for cooking, treating skin infections, and many other things. Press cakes left over from the process of making Moringa oil can be used as fertilizer, fuel for cooking, and as a water purifier.

Church World Service is working to spread the good news of all the Moringa tree's benefits to malnourished families across West Africa, to show them how to make use of different tree parts and to provide families with seedlings to grow the tree near their homes.

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