December 29, 2005: Headlines: COS - Jamaica: Ironwood Daily Globe: Kenn and Jeanne Miller are Peace Corps volunteers serving in Jamaica, West Indies

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Jamaica: Peace Corps Jamaica : The Peace Corps in Jamaica: December 29, 2005: Headlines: COS - Jamaica: Ironwood Daily Globe: Kenn and Jeanne Miller are Peace Corps volunteers serving in Jamaica, West Indies

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Kenn and Jeanne Miller are Peace Corps volunteers serving in Jamaica, West Indies

Kenn and Jeanne Miller are Peace Corps volunteers serving in Jamaica, West Indies

Kenn Miller is a business volunteer working in sustainable development; Jeanne Miller is a health volunteer working with Youth at Risk, HIV and elderly issues, including a weekly blood pressure clinic. Both teach about issues, especially the "Trees for Life" project which deals with reintroducing two trees, the neem and moringa, to provide income for developing small businesses.

Kenn and Jeanne Miller are Peace Corps volunteers serving in Jamaica, West Indies

Couple works to help Jamaica
Published Thursday, December 29, 2005 11:32:41 AM Central Time

JAMAICA, West Indies -- Kenn and Jeanne Miller are Peace Corps volunteers serving in Jamaica, West Indies.

After leaving the Gogebic County area in July 2003 to serve in Haiti, they were evacuated seven months later due to civil unrest.

Then in July 2004 they accepted an invitation to serve in Jamaica through August 2005, and have since been in southwestern St. Catherine in a small rural community called Spring Village, except for a return trip to the United States for Kenn to have surgery in July. He is no longer a Peace Corps member, but still serves with Jeanne -- as a true volunteer.

A Year of Hurricanes

Their time in Jamaica has taught them about hurricanes.

In September 2004 they experienced Ivan, their first hurricane. The next eight months with the Peace Corps dealt with rebuilding and repairing homes, churches and schools with the help of community members.

"We developed lasting friendships and shared in their losses," the Millers noted in a Christmas message to the Daily Globe.

Kenn Miller designed an inexpensive foundation for a friend's 12-by-12 board home. "She and her three children were so happy to have their own one room home," they wrote. "She later built an outside kitchen and lean-to."

The Millers were also responsible for disbursing donated material fairly to the community, and applying for grant money through USAID and the United Way of Jamaica.

Through Peace Corps Partnership Grant funds they were able to upgrade the Spring Village Development Foundation and vocational school to be a designated disaster shelter, allowing them to purchase fire extinguishers, lanterns and safety equipment, and to construct hurricane shutters for the grills around the building.

During Ivan, 226 people occupied a 30-foot by 90-foot building for three days. The upgrade will allow funds and other supplies like mattresses, blankets and food stuffs from the local government entities in the event of another disaster.

Flooding is always an issue in hurricane season and the rainy seasons but Jamaica also experiences more than 200 earthquakes a year. In November, there was a 5.4 magnitude quake that shook people out of their sleep, although no structural damage was noted.

Jamaica sustained considerable flooding, crop damage and road damage during the active hurricane season this year, being hit by Hurricane Dennis, Emily and especially Wilma. "Jamaica was spared Katrina's wrath by the grace of God alone," the Millers wrote.

Miracle Trees

Kenn Miller is a business volunteer working in sustainable development; Jeanne Miller is a health volunteer working with Youth at Risk, HIV and elderly issues, including a weekly blood pressure clinic.

Both teach about issues, especially the "Trees for Life" project which deals with reintroducing two trees, the neem and moringa, to provide income for developing small businesses.

"They will increase the health of the people and also the environment," the Millers wrote, explaining that the neem is a natural herbicide and insecticide. "The health possibilities are staggering."

These include being beneficial for diabetes by stabilizing blood sugar levels and decreasing or eliminating the need for insulin or oral agents. It increases circulation thus improving the heart, lowering the blood pressure, and thinning of the blood naturally. It treats scabies, psoriases, acne and is a natural contraceptive for both men and women. It treats cancers, herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases, plus research is ongoing on a treatment for HIV virus. The neem can also assist in lowering the craving for nicotine. It is a fast-growing tree that survives in marginal soil in tropical and subtropical areas.

The neem is an insecticide by inhibiting the insects from reproducing in humans. The oil from neem seeds can be made into a stick to rub on the skin and keep mosquitoes away or, mixed with other ascents oils, in place of DEET products which cause cancer.

In April they planted 127 neem seedlings around the parameter of Jamaica Broilers Chicken Processing Plant in Spring Village to purify the air and eliminate the insects and cut down on the smell.

The moringa tree grows naturally in Jamaica since 1827 and is mostly used as a fence post as it grows fast, very straight, and isn't good to make charcoal.

"This tree is the answer to malnutrition around the world," the Millers wrote. "It is high is vitamins, seven times more vitamin C than oranges, four times more vitamin A than carrots, four times more calcium that milk, two times more protein than milk, and three times more potassium than bananas. It truly is a miracle tree."

Neem-Moringa Tea

The Millers harvest the leaves of both trees and dehydrating them in solar dehydrators. The dehydrators work so well they are building two more.

They drink tea made from these trees -- it's "very good for you" -- adding mint and ginger to overcome the tea's bitter taste.

They plan to source a machine to package the leaves into tea bags to create a small business for these products. Some farmers are planting the trees and many community members use the leaves and seed kernels and have noticed improvements in their health.

A Colorado group makes a power drink from the moringa which is used by athletes before athletic events to improve their performance, the Millers added.

Other parts of both trees can be used. When the berries or seeds mature they are pressed for cooking oil and use in cosmetics products.

"There is no end to the possibilities. We are very excited and know that this project will leave a great legacy here in Spring Village."

For more information, e-mail the Millers at

Merry Christmas to all and may you have a Happy and Peaceful New Year.

Kenneth and Jeanne Miller.

When this story was posted in December 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Ironwood Daily Globe

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