Cake One – eaten with the Rafiki Collective in a tiny village in Keyna
Kenya is such a positive place in many ways, full of colour, song, dance and gratitude. Our welcome at the Rafiki Collective will be one I treasure forever. I will never forget sitting in the village, under a tree listening to the women’s passionate stories of how porridge changes and saves lives, then watching as local ingredients, millet, cassava, even egg shells are mixed together. Following the women, with buckets on their heads, as they take the mix to be ground down at the mill.
Following them back to the village to make the porridge over a fire.
The vitamins and minerals in these carefully chosen ingredients have raised people from their sick beds, allowed women to breastfeed babies longer, keep HIV patients immune systems fighting and rescue malnourished infants.
The porridge also makes the women in the village an income. Such a simple thing, making such a difference.
The porridge was served in these orange plastic beakers, which took me back to the late 70s, drinking Ribena and eating biscuits as a kid. The gently spiced homemade cakes we were generously given with the sweetened porridge felt like an incredible treat.
The Lakes region of Kenya has so many complex elements, a HIV epidemic, poverty, it is deeply superstitious, which makes transmitting health information difficult. It became very clear from listening to women and girls’ talk, that their rights are limited and opportunities blocked, ‘wife inheritance’ reduces them to property. The HIV epidemic means 200,000 children were orphaned.
But lasting change is happening. Only 2 out of 16,000 babies in the hospital we visited were HIV positive, thanks to Mentor Mothers, who are funded by Comic Relief. Hovic, another Kenyan project we visited, gets street children off the streets and gives them food, shelter, education, counselling and skills. Rafiki were trained and supported in their porridge manufacture by the Omega Foundation, funded by Comic Relief. We also met girls being coached in football and mentored to stay in school.
Fast forward to Cake Two eaten in my local Costa Coffee while I tried to sort my head out and write this post.
An utter indulgence and quite frankly £3.50 which could have gone in the Team Honk pot. I realised today I hadn’t yet donated. Many years I have given £20 while watching Comic Relief on TV. Some years I’ve given not much more than the cost of this little indulgence. In fact the year we went to Ghana I had to beg my Dad to pay for my vaccinations, as we had no money. This year things are better and I can donate generously, so I have.
While I ate my cake I was thinking of Hope, the food bank I visited in Nottingham, and Mr G and my visit to Stonebridge City Farm, also funded by Comic Relief, who work with adults and young people with learning disabilities or who are excluded from mainstream education. You are never more than 30 miles from a Comic Relief project.
Cake has the power to restore hope and create bonds between people. I hope in some way – rather than just liking that cake, in that shallow social media fashion we have become accustomed to, and moving on – it might perhaps inspire you to donate a little to the cause. But truly it is THIS cake and hospitality I feel I need to repay most.
Miss L and Mr G are going to #dancetheiryears this weekend and I will be joining Team Honk, a merry band of bloggers and friends, to dance at Wembley Arena for 6 hours.