Tag Archives: food

Food Shopping in Mtwapa

Mtwapa is a town of contrasts; whilst the vast majority of the town is comprised of simple concrete and mud construction homes there are a small number of luxurious creekside mansions. This is also true of the food shops; luxury supermarkets and shopping malls sit alongside local shops, home made kiosks and traditional markets.

There are a couple of modern supermarket chains and shopping malls in Mtwapa which flank the main road. With their neatly stacked shelves and polished floors, these shops wouldn’t look out of place in a European city and like their international counterparts, they sell almost everything but at a high cost! The families we work with don’t use these shops, not only are the prices very high but the air-conditioning makes the whole shop very cold!

The smaller of the 2 Tuskys Supermarkets in Mtwapa
The smaller of the 2 Tuskys Supermarkets in Mtwapa

Thankfully, there are many other local shops and mini supermarkets to choose from. These shops generally offer a good range of products but shun the more expensive international brands in favour of Kenyan shopping trends. For example, bottles of cooking oil can be bought but it is cheaper if you bring your own bottle – most people use small water bottles but any container with a lid will do!

If you are looking for the most cost effective way to shop then markets are the way forwards! Each market area tends to specialise in a specific type of product e.g. fruit and veg, fish or clothing. The fruit markets are a sight to behold, each stall is a rainbow of colour filled with a wide range of seasonal exotic fruit and vegetables. Prices are also truly seasonal, towards the end of the year when the mango crop is being harvested a mango can cost as little as 10 shillings (about 8 pence), but in low season this can soar up to around 100 shillings! This means that families change what they eat depending on the time of year, this helps to minimise the cost of their food bill but it also means that they are always eating tasty fresh food direct from the field rather the bland imported variants we have to put up with in Europe.

A fruit and vegetable market on Mtwapa's main road
A fruit and vegetable market on Mtwapa’s main road

Most of the families we work with a eat vegetable based diet which they occasionally supplement with fish or even more rarely, meat. Meat is available from butchers or supermarkets and in contrast to western cultures, meat on the bone is valued much more highly then filets. This is because the vast majority of Kenyan meat dishes require the meat to be stewed with the bone to make a rich broth.

Being close to the sea, Mtwapa has a wonderful array of fresh fish which can be bought from fish mongers (known as fish butchers) or at the large sea food market. In the more rural part of Mtwapa where electricity and fridges are uncommon, most families do generally not buy fresh fish and instead prefer to buy small pre-cooked potions from local vendors. This is one of the many things that Mama Umi cooks at her food business.

Buying cooked fish
Mama Umi’s cooked fish peices

As you move further away from the main road, shops and large markets become less common. The are replaced with small convenience kiosks which pop up on street corners. The kiosks (known as Kibandas) sell small amounts of fruit, vegetables, dry ingredients and cooking essentials.

Finally, water. The lucky people who live near to the main road have the option of mains water, this needs to be treated before it can be drunk but this by far the most convenient water source. The majority, without plumbed water, have three options, the first is to dig a well (very expensive to dig the hole and after all that the water could turn out to be salty), second is to install a large water tank which can be filled by a water company or finally buying from the Maji (water) man.

Maji men push big carts with 8 heavy water containers all around Mtwapa. They all have pieces of loose metal attached to their wheels which make a distinctive clattering noise as the cart is pushed, letting the residents know they can run out and buy water. You can buy any type of water from the Maji Man – from washing water to fresh drinking water and it is very reasonably priced. You pay for the water then the Maji Man lugs the container into your house and fills your bucket, taking the empty container away again to be used tomorrow. Even the drinking water is affordable, largely thanks to the Dutch Water company and their foundation Stichting Waterpas which provides water to schools and orphanages around Mtwapa. Thanks to them, we rarely meet a family who cannot afford clean drinking water.

Maji Man hard at work
Maji Man hard at work
The Maji Man's cart - if you look closely you can see the squares of metal on wire attached to the wheel
The Maji Man’s cart – if you look closely you can see the squares of metal on wire attached to the wheel

We hope this gives you a little bit of insight into the way people buy food and water in Mtwapa and helps you to understand a little more about the childrens’ lives.

Milele Business Grants – Food

Hi All,

In this episode of the Milele Business Grants series we are going to focus in on a few of the food businesses which have been setup or expanded with the help of a business grant.

The takeaway food industry in Mtwapa is really vibrant, if you walk down almost any street you will find someone selling some kind of food. Whether it’s sweet kiamati in the morning, chipati and beans at lunch time or fried pili-pili fish (straight from the fishing boats) in the evening; there’s always something interesting.

Local Fried Fish
Local Fried Fish

The popularity of takeaway food makes it a really good option for those who have received a business grant. With a small investment to buy equipment and ingredients, the family can use their existing skills to cook up some tasty treats and be making money by the end of the day. Best of all, if there’s any unsold stock the family can eat it for dinner so it’s rare that any food gets wasted.

Fauzia, the mother of Ummy, who is sponsored on the Milele programme, received a business grant to set up a food business and is making a huge success of it.  I’d like to take you through a typical day so you can get an idea of just how hard she works!

Fauzia begins her day at around 5:00 am when she starts cooking so she can catch the early breakfast trade. She makes a few different dishes at breakfast time but by far the most popular is Mahamri; which is a triangular shaped savoury donut that I particularly like to dip in sweet tea! She cooks hundreds of these every morning and sells them directly to her customers as they walk by the stall.

At around 10:00 am she packs up her breakfast stall and makes her way to the local fish market where she buys several kilos of small fish. She cooks the fish in a large curved pan filled with bubbling oil, by the time the fish come out they are golden and crispy, the perfect addition to rice or ugali. After a few hours cooking fish, Fauzia cleans up and starts preparing for dinner.

In the evening, Fauzia mainly cooks a type of spiced potatoes which are usually accompanied by greens and perhaps some meat or fish. After a few more hours of cooking and selling Fauzia is done for the day, all that is left to do is pop to the market to buy the ingredients for tomorrow… and cook dinner for her family!

Fauzia Cooking
Fauzia – Cooking at Her Stall

Fauzia is one of the hardest workers I have ever met, not only does she take every possible opportunity to make the money she needs to support her family, but she does it 7 days a week. Fauzia is making a good living for her self and her family and they are now able to achieve things which were not previously possible.

What’s amazing is that Fauzia is not alone in working this hard, many of the other business grant beneficiaries work just as hard and are becoming just as successful!

Thanks for reading,

Richard

Food Parcels

Hello everyone!

We are now back in the UK and wanted to fill you all in on the rest of our news from the trip.

One of the major achievements was the distribution of the food parcels to families who needed them in the area. As I mentioned in a previous post, we visited more than 100 families and encountered some very severe situations of families in desperate need. With 55 food parcels to distribute we couldn’t possibly make them stretch out to help all the families, so we squeezed a little here and there and managed to scrape together 87 parcels in total.

Each food parcel was worth 1100 Kenya Shillings (roughly £10) and contained 8kg of flour; 2kg of beans; 2kg of sugar; 1 litre of cooking oil and 2kg of rice, enough for an average sized family for around one week. I would like to introduce you to some of the children and their families who received food parcels.

Juma – 13 years old
Juma is a child who currently attends Mtwapa Academy. He contracted HIV at birth and is fighting to prevent this virus developing into AIDs. As is common with many children in his situation he is now an orphan since both his parents passed away. He currently lives with his elder brother and his wife, neither of whom have a stable job. Since taking in Juma, the whole family have suffered a huge amount of discrimination rooted in a lack of understanding and knowledge of the disease. They have been chased away from jobs by people who thought that now they must also be ‘infected’ and Juma is struggling to see himself as normal or to imagine a future life for himself.
One of the largest problems Juma faces is food. Such a simple thing yet it is causing him huge problems. As HIV positive, Juma is entitled to free anti-retroviral drugs to control the virus, which he is receiving, however the tablets are prescribed three times a day, to be taken with a big meal. As with many children in his situation, Juma is lucky to receive three large meals a week, so the medicine is unable to work effectively.

Loice (2 years), Saumu (4 years), Amir (9 years), Musa (10 years), Ishmal (11 years) & Swabrina (13 years)

Amir, Musa, Loice and Saumu with their mother
Amir, Musa, Loice and Saumu with their mother

This family have a total of six children living with their single mother together in one room. Their father abandoned the family some years ago and their mother, without any formal education or qualifications of her own, is struggling to make ends meet. Some of the children attend Rescue Foundation, a local community group providing free or very cheap education and day care for the youngest children, others attend the local government school which is overcrowded, poorly resourced and badly managed.
Without any regular income, the family struggle on a daily basis to put food on the table.

Mwanyae Family
After their mother passed away due to HIV these nine children were left alone. Their care was discussed by village members and in the end they were divided amongst neighbours, extended family and well wishers in the area. Mohammed (around 5 years – pictured) is living in a single-roomed mud hut with his aunt, who is herself a widow with three children and no stable job. His brother and sister, Richard and Madiha, (around 7 years and 3 years – pictured) are staying with another aunt in a mud and iron sheet construction in serious disrepair. In this house are a total of nine children, the eldest of whom now has an 8 month old baby boy of her own.

Madiha and Richard with their aunt receiving their food parcel
Madiha and Richard with their aunt receiving their food parcel
Richard and Madiha's aunt in her house with her eldest daughter and grandchild
Richard and Madiha's aunt in her house with her eldest daughter and grandchild
Mohammed's aunt outside their home
Mohammed's aunt outside their home
Mohammed with his toy pencil case
Mohammed with his toy pencil case
Mohammed with his aunt
Mohammed with his aunt

Brian Matias
Brian is a little boy attending New Life Kindergarten. Neither his mother or father are around, leaving Brian in the care of his grandmother, who is blind. In the same home, also under the sole care of the grandmother are Emily (aged 4) and Charity (aged 7). The girls are currently not attending school after being sent home to fetch school fees. This family is a very large one, with many children and grandchildren who have been left to the care of this elderly lady. Without a job of her own, and with very few people around to support her, she struggles to feed and care for the children, let alone send them to school.

Brian's whole family receiving food parcels and nets
Brian's whole family receiving food parcels and nets
Brian's grandmother with Charity (aged 7) outside their home
Brian's grandmother with Charity (aged 7) outside their home

As I said, there are 87 families who received food parcels. I could tell you 87 stories just like these ones here. But I think that’s probably enough for now. I cannot tell you how important this food was to these families. If you are reading this knowing you donated a parcel, please know that it has truely gone to a family who need it.

Clearly these parcels are a short term fix and most certainly do not even begin to address the depth of the problems for many of these families. However, it does give them a head start for the next week or so and a reprieve to get on top of other costs such as rent or school fees which have been outstanding and building up over time. To help families like these ones find a long term solution we would love to be able to assist them in starting small businesses to create a sustainable income over time. We have done this already with some of the families on our sponsorship programme who have started businesses such as charcoal sales and chicken rearing, and have found it to cost roughly £85 per family, depending on the type of business they start. If you think you could help any of these families to find a sustainable income by donating that amount of money, please contact me today and we can get started. My mobile number is 07950329398 or my email is amy@milele.org.uk. I would love to hear from you.

Thank-you once again for the food.

Buying Food Parcels

As many of you know, over the Christmas period this year we ran a Christmas gifts appeal and many of you bought mosquito nets or food parcels to distribute in Kenya. We were really pleased with the response we had and we were really excited to distribute them while we were out here.

We had 55 food parcels donated, so we set about visiting many families in the area to ascertain which families were most in need of food and research each individual case thoroughly. We were expecting to encounter lots of families who were desperately in need of help and indeed that is exactly what happened. Every single family identified was in real need of food. In the end we decided to find some more money, using a donation from ‘Coterie Creative’ and an individual donation from Tina and Michael Wright to help us close the gap between the money we needed and the money we had. I am thrilled to tell you that we finally bought enough food for 87 food parcels. 87 different spread across all our projects – Mtwapa Academy; Victory Kindergarten; Rescue Foundation; Royal Academy and New Life School will receive food this week. Each parcel costs £10 and contains 2kg of beans; 2kg of rice; 4kg of wheat flour; 4kg of maize flour; 2kg of sugar and 2 litres of cooking oil – all basic essentials for most Kenyan dishes.

I am looking forward to showing you the photos and telling you a little about a few of the families but for now let me share with you the images of the food packed and ready to go! The sight of so much food in one place was truly incredible. It’s going to make a huge difference, so anyone who is reading this who has bought a food parcel should be really proud of themselves! Thank-you so much for your support, all across Mtwapa kids will be eating good, solid meals this week thanks to you.

overflowing bags of rice
overflowing bags of rice
large sacks of beans ready to go
large sacks of beans ready to go
cooking oil - each family will receive two bottles
cooking oil - each family will receive two bottles
The sacks of maize flour. This pile is two sacks deep and each sack contains 12 packets!
The sacks of maize flour. This pile is two sacks deep and each sack contains 12 packets!
lots of food ready to distribute
lots of food ready to distribute

Save a Life this Christmas

Great news!

The Milele Christmas Gifts are now available! They make a perfect gift for ‘hard-to-buy-for’ people this year! Donate to Milele this christmas and we will buy a mosquito net (£5) or a food parcel (£10) for a family in Kenya. In return you will get a gift certificate to pass on to someone in this country explaining why the gift is so important  – the ideal substitute for a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine.

Mosquito Nets (£5)

With malaria one of the biggest killers of children under 5 in this area, nets keep little ones safe during their first few years of life. They are specially treated to provide maximum protection.

6 month old twins making good use of your mosquito net donations last year
6 month old twins making good use of your mosquito net donations last year

Food Parcels (£10)

No family should be hungry this Christmas. Food parcels provide healthy and tasty sustenance to families who are malnourished and struggling for food.

Food parcels are a great way to help families who are hungry this christmas
Food parcels are a great way to help families who are hungry this christmas

To Order:

To order a net or a food parcel drop me an email to amy@milele.org.uk

Lets make a real difference

Last year together we managed to give Mosquito nets and food parcels to 38 families. After visiting the homes of these families and seeing the incredible difference they make, I can truly tell you there really is no better way to spend your money this year. One mother told me she had been really scared of Malaria after the long rainy season, but since receiving the net, not one of her children has contracted Malaria. This year we can do even better – we can reach even more children and families and save more lives.

Thank-you