For some fifteen months now we have been caring for a group of children who came to the project for a variety of reasons. Mostly these included hunger, and in some cases, having nowhere to sleep. The essential problem shared by all our children is simply poverty. Most have families that would care for them if there was money to buy food, but money in these parts is a distinctly scarce commodity.
Rather than only provide food and shelter, which in itself does not tackle the underlying problem, we are helping the families of our children to earn an income which will enable them to be self-sufficient. To this end, we have two small enterprises running: a restaurant and a shop.
The restaurant, or 'resto' in the local language would better be described as a small cafe. It occupies a room on the perimeter of a traders' market and advertises itself with a bright sheet across the door with coloured balloons on it. Inside, another sheet hangs from a cord, curtain-like, to divide the eating area from the front counter.
Customers sit on school benches eating rice and beans on low tables. Thermos flasks on the counter hold hot, black and sweet tea, which is surprisingly refreshing in the heat of the equator. Each day, the resto makes up batches of amandazi buns, chapatis, and sambosas filled with a spicy mince and vegetable mix. Each day, these are consumed by paying customers which is good news for the women who are hoping to earn a regular income from the place.
Gavin is teaching the women who work in the restaurant how to plan their finances so that they have enough each month to cover their rent and local taxes for rubbish collection and keeping the surrounding area tidy. What is left is divided between the women to enable them to feed their families.