Forestation Projects & Neem Tree Planting

Altos de los Mores, because of its location in northern Peru, is a coastal desert!  There are not many trees, there are virtually no government sponsored tree initiatives, and the place is hot, barren, and full of sand.  Walking through this area on a typical day is tortuous, due to the extreme heat and sun.  This area is in desperate need of trees, but again, not too many trees can thrive in these conditions.

One tree that was introduced to Piura, Peru in the last 20 years is the “Neem Tree.” The Neem tree was brought to a university in Peru, from India.  It has been used in India for centuries and is known as “the pharmacy of the poor,” because it offers over 150 medicinal remedies ranging from malaria, colds & fevers, to diabetes.  It is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and dermatological.  Apart from these amazing benefits, the tree itself can withstand harsh desert conditions, grows incredibly fast, and big, providing the desperately needed shade in this community.

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The first goal of our tree planting projects was to address the lack of trees and shade in the area by planting Neem and other native trees, and the secondary goal is to teach the community to use the neem tree’s medicinal remedies to cure many of their common ailments.  Most families cannot afford to see a doctor or purchase medicine, so the sad reality is that many go untreated, suffer, and sometimes die.

With the neem tree right outside their doors, community members can now start using the leaves to make tea to cure a host of illnesses, or use the stem to clean their teeth, or boil the leaves to apply to inflamed or infected skin.  Please note though, that while adults can drink 3-7 leaves daily, children are NOT TO INGEST the neem as it can cause serious damage and even death to them.  Children can however use the neem dermatologically, to cure even the severest of skin infections (which are common due to a lack of nutrition and hygiene).  After 5 days of applying neem directly to the skin via crushed leaves or boiled neem water, several children have been cured of nasty and persistent open skin rashes & infections.

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Common skin infection for some children in Alto de los mores

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After 7 days of treatment with Neem tree leaf.

Since the end of 2001, AYNI has planted approximately 8,000 to 10,00 neem trees, and other native trees like the tamarindo in the community of Alto de los Mores. Not only have these trees benefitted this particular community by giving shade, and lowering the temperature, they are also contributing to an increase in oxygen of the planet, and are helping to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.  Each year we continue to forest the area, so eventually all streets and houses will be lined with this beautiful landscape.

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Others potential opportunities that could be explored include exporting neem to manufacturers that can process it into neem related products i.e. toothpaste, face creams, oils, shampoos etc.  This area has not yet been explored, but volunteers are encouraged to investigate the possibilities.

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“On a personal note, I myself drink neem tea all the time to cure sore throats, abdominal bloating, constipation, colds, as well as use it on my face to reduce the bags under my eyes!  I dried the leave, brought them back with me and use them regularly.  I swear it kept me healthy during swine flu season.” -Margie Orsi

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Neem tree as of 2015

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