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Sunday, August 2, 2009

All filled up

What’s cool about the Mercy Children’s Centre is that not only do they fill the minds of the kids here, but their bellies as well. When it comes to food, the school is virtually self-sustaining and what’s even more impressive is that everyone gets involved.

The school day starts early here and the kids line up for tea each morning at 7:30. Milk for the tea is provided by the cows whom George tends to religiously. In addition to the three cows (and one calf), the school also has two goats, two sheep, several chickens and a rooster.

Lunchtime is at about 1:00 and the menu alternates between ugali with sukumawiki and ‘Mixture’. Ugali is the local staple food and is made from grinding maize into maize flour and cooking it together with water to make a sort of dough. The maize is grown on site and the kids help with the planting and harvesting of it.

The final harvest was recently completed in preparation for the August planting season. These boys were showing off and taking down the stalks with ninja-like prowess!

The maize is laid out to dry under the hot sun, is removed from the cobb, dried some more, and is stored so that it is always on hand to be used as needed. Sukumawiki, a green and leafy vegetable that looks like lettuce, or a close relative, is also grown on site. It is boiled and eaten together with ugali.

Mixture is just that, a mixture of maize and beans combined to make what can only be described as deliciousness. The maize crop alternates with the bean crop and planting and harvesting again involves the students.

Meals are prepared in the school’s kitchen by an amazing staff. They let Troy and I peer over their shoulders and taught us how to make ugali, even though we ran out of the kitchen everytime the smoke rejected the chimney and filled the room. I guess your eyes must develop a tolerance after a while. .. Most of the cooking is done in giant pots held on three rocks above a fire fuelled by the dry sticks that the kids bring in on their designated firewood-day.

Here, Seline is preparing the sukumawiki and Joseph, having returned from town with a gunny sack of freshly ground maize secured to his bicycle, is cheffing up ugali.

Bon Appetit!

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