Restaurant visit

01-07-2011

This week we arranged to see mama Elijah at the restaurant to talk about bringing some more customers in the door. We had learnt last week that she was leaving the children's house at five in the morning and not returning until ten at night. This was another issue we needed to sort out.

The reason for the early start is the dawn rush for breakfast. Porridge made from maize flour and sambusa are what get the Nyamirambo Rwandans going in the morning. After that there is a lull which allows the restaurant to prepare the main meals for the middle of the day. In between, customers drift in and out for tea (black and sweet) with amandazi.

First stop then was mama Elijah herself. We sat down with her at the low tables where customers eat their beans, rice and tomatoes. The room has two sheets hanging across it strung from cords nailed into the walls. One sheet divides the main dining area from the doorway while the other keeps the floor behind the counter separate. We are thinking of approaching Ikea in Nairobi with the idea. Mama Elijah seemed very pleased at being told to stop sweeping the floor and instead let the girl who helps in the place do just that. Delegation is something that hasn't caught on yet in Rwandan life. The basic premise seems to be that if you want something doing, do it yourself.

After leaving mama Elijah with a smile on her face, next stop is the earth-floored room with its broken window across the market, otherwise known as the kitchen. Emmanuel makes a hundred sambusas in there each day. They are good too, like crispy bridies filled with spicy stovies. As I arrived, a fresh batch had been put outside on a small table at the kitchen door where two women squatted on the ground taking their fill. Despite the bright sunshine outside, the kitchen is dimly lit. Charcoal stoves on the floor glow red giving the place a dungeon atmosphere.

Emmanuel says he can sell three hundred sambusas each day if he has help and some buckets to take the products around the district. We talk about how much a boy would cost and the answer seems to be around 500 francs a day - around 50p. At that price it looks as if we will have another member of staff next week. If it gives someone else a wage, and the children in the house are fed from the profit, then we are more than happy.