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Photo of Sr Francisca stirs an ointment in water bath during seminar May 2018

Personal Stories: Sister Francisca’s Medicinal Garden

Sr. Francisca Kaesa is a member of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters.

She was a missionary in Tanzania and while there developed an interest in Natural Medicines. She was sponsored to attend one of the REAP/anamed Natural Medicines seminars in November 2016. She was an extremely active participant during that seminar, and a very keen learner.

Having completed the seminar she was very keen to put what she had learnt into practice on returning to her community. Upon her request the Priory House set aside a half acre plot specifically for developing a medicinal garden known as the St Hildegard Herbal Garden.

Immediately she started work and laid out the garden and started planting a range of herbal plants amongst the fruit trees already planted there.

She visited the REAP garden in Kajulu, near Kisumu, and came back with many plants which she added to her garden. It has been an inspiration to see the way that she has developed that garden in just over two years.

Photo of Sister Francisca testing black stone
Sr Francisca trying black stone
Photo of Sr Francisca stirs an ointment in water bath during seminar May 2018

When we were planning for a seminar in May 2018, we decided that Sr. Francesca’s garden was an ideal resource to back up our training, so we decided to book the centre for that seminar.

As we explored the possibility, we realised that the Congregation had fully come on board behind her ministry and she also had the St Lioba block house devoted to the work.

For the last three seminars, we have been able to use this facility. It includes a friendly meeting room where we conduct the plenary teaching, a kitchen where herbal teas etc can be prepared and a sitting room for relaxing in during the breaks. It also has a veranda which makes an ideal location for all the afternoon practical sessions. The garden is both an onsite source of fresh plant materials for teaching and also a great open-air classroom for exposure to the wonder of God’s creation of medicinal plants.

The Subiaco Centre has comfortable accommodation and is a popular centre for seminars and meetings. Those who visit enjoy the ambiance and often end up visiting the medicinal garden.

Sr. Francisca has become well known as a source of medicinal plants, treatments and knowledge, and people come to learn from her. Since she has attended more than three of her seminars, she is an accredited Trainer of Trainers (ToT). She has been referring many to us, and about half the participants at the last seminar were referred through her. She is indeed an A* student and a great inspiration to many, enabling the message we are sharing to get to so many more.

Photo of Sr Francisca explaining herbs in the garden

You too can REAP the benefits of a Medicinal Garden!

To read more about Planting Natural Medicines and for a breakdown of a Medicinal Garden, click here

This link will take you to a list of our Natural Medicines Teaching Leaflets, click here

Monica selling her crop of Roselle

Personal stories: How Monica went from water carrier to Roselle producer

We first met Monica at the Kisumu Regional Show. REAP used to have a stand at the Kisumu Regional Show and Monica helped us by carrying water. She helped us as we prepared for the show and throughout the seven days of the show. She took an interest in what we were planting and teaching.

Since then she has been successfully growing some of the new plants we have introduced to the area including Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa). 

When we needed some for people who had ordered it in Nairobi, we contacted her, and she brought us a good quantity for sale from her own farm.  She measures it by volume, using a one litre tin as commonly used in the market. 

We want to recognise her diligence in keeping the seed from year to year and continuing to recognise the value of this plant by growing it on her own farm.  Monica had good quality seed to sell.

She has picked up something we have mentioned but have not seen many others do.  She roasts and grinds the seed to make a coffee substitute that certainly smells good!

Monica selling her crop of Roselle
Photo of Roselle

Roselle is a bushy plant, growing to about 1 metre tall. It is native to Sudan and West Africa.  It grows well in hot conditions and will tolerate relatively poor soil conditions.   

It is grown mainly for its red acid succulent calyces that are made into a drink, taken either hot or cold.  The tea is pleasant and refreshing, detoxifies the body and helps remove dead disease organisms and toxins from the body (cleans the blood). 

It is a mild sedative and therefore good for reducing stress and helping ensure good sleep.  When people are sick it is important that they take enough fluid and Roselle tea is a good way of ensuring sick people drink enough.  The tea can also be made from Roselle mixed with Lemon Grass for added flavour and medicinal benefit.

To find out more about Roselle and it’s uses, click here

Rosalia supervising the students preparing beeswax for adding to ointments

News from our travels with our Natural Medicine teachings

In February, Roger travelled with Rosalia to Kwale which is near the coast in Kenya. They went to facilitate a five-day Natural Medicine seminar at the Kenya School for Integrated Medicine.

We covered the usual topics that we train on. However, the participants were different from our usual participants making this an interesting and affirming experience. Most of the participants were students at the school, so they were much younger than those we normally train. It was a positive opportunity to introduce students, who are involved in alternative medicine, to the wealth of medicinal remedies easily available to all. Participation in the practicals was great.

The garden walk was a particularly helpful tool. It proved to show how many useful plants are already available. By the end of the week, we were encouraged by the questions which reflected a growing understanding of what we teach as Natural Medicines.

In mid-March, we will be taking the same general teaching to a group of students at the Africa Inland Church Missionary Training College in Eldoret. These are Bible students preparing to take the gospel message to remote parts of the country and beyond. We have trained there every two years for some time now.

Rosalia supervising the students preparing beeswax for adding to ointments
Rosalia supervising the students preparing beeswax for adding to ointments
Students cleaning groundnut shells ready for making medicinal charcoal
Students cleaning groundnut shells ready for making medicinal charcoal
Rosalia teaching on making chilli ointment
Rosalia teaching on making chilli ointment
Roger demonstrating on how to use unripe pawpaws for treating difficult wounds
Roger demonstrating on how to use unripe pawpaws for treating difficult wounds