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The village of Nua Pu’u lies on the northern slope of the mountain range that forms the spine of the Flores island. A traditional community, it still maintains a square of ancestral clan houses around a central graveyard, each house bearing a high thatched roof on massive wooden pillars. Stephanus Leni is the Moso Laki of the Kebesani clan here. His role as the traditional manager of the clan lands makes him and warden of the steep country around the village. Though once a rich forested landscape, the hillsides are now mainly scrub and patchy farming on steep slopes with erosion a constant problem. Among the few trees remaining are Symplocos trees, though cut with the rest of the woodlands, they have sprouted from their rootstocks or seeded and grown anew. 

Stephanus-Leni

Life is hard here and the people struggle to make a living off the land. Symplocos leaf harvesting offers an entirely new income stream to the community and in 2012 Leni organized a group of 13 women to collect leaves during the months between August and December when the Symplocos trees shed their leaves. 

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