Doing Fieldwork

As many of you know, I’m currently in Mexico for the summer! My friends who follow my Instagram or Snapchat can see that I’ve been having a ball of a time with my host family in the little ejido Agua Caliente Nueva. The people in the community are just so friendly and welcoming and have embraced my presence as the only Chinese woman in the town haha! I promise you though, that I actually did come here to do fieldwork for a project for a professor, thanks to the grant I received from the Center for Global Health at Johns Hopkins University (try to find me!).

My project includes two main things:

  • brewing fresh Moringa leaves to make tea samples to be analyzed by my professors
  • assessing the acceptability and feasibility of incorporating Moringa leaves as a vegetable in households in Agua Caliente Nueva through Trials of Improved Practice (TIPs) with community members

It’s Week 4 and I finally am able to begin one of my projects (the brewing the tea leaves) now that I have all the necessary supplies. I didn’t believe my professors when they told me that things in the field may not go as planned or as scheduled, and now I understand!

My first mistake (and hopefully the only one) was grabbing too few leaves the first time 😦 I thought I only needed 15 leaves but turned out I needed 15 grams of leaves! And walking around in the daytime is SUPER hot so it was quite the struggle to go back twice and carry whole branches. I haven’t worked out since maybe April (I KNOW, it’s sad) so my arms are feeling a little bit frail and weak haha. My second mistake was burning my fingers while handling the pots 😩 For some reason, their cookware retains heat for a long time, hence my fingertip burns sigh…

Here are some pictures showing the process of brewing fresh Moringa leaves in the field 🙂

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In the center of it all: the moringa site! I think they might have over 1,000 different trees here since every single one is meticulously labeled with numbers and I saw 1,000+ a couple of times :O

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Let me tell you, these leaves weigh pretty much close to nothing. I learned from my mistake from taking one little twig of leaves to grabbing whole branches just to meet the 15-gram weight!

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This is me with the little manila envelope-full of what I thought were sufficient leaves… Silly me. I had to go back later that day to grab the branches D:

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To preserve the Moringa leaf homogenate (tea), I have to add ethanol into the tubitos in a 1:1 ratio.

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After bringing the purified water to a boil, I’d add the leaves and turn off the fire when the water started to boil again, and let it steep until 15 minutes were up!
 

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