“You will have to get out and walk”
The road ahead, well, I’m not sure if it can be called a road, the mud track ahead is peppered with deep cracks, holes and loose rocks. The team mini-bus is stuck but we are only a couple of hundred meters from today’s clinic site. Miraculously, the equipment van has reached our destination and we set off on foot to join them and get started.
The day goes well and we get a good turn out of patients. As we are seeing the last patient of the day, the sky greys over and rain starts to fall. When it rains here it is not like the indecisive English rain that may trickle for a while, pretend to let the sun out and then down pour once you’ve built the confidence to go out. In Kenya when it rains, the clouds empty all they have and then the sky returns to brilliant blue. So when the droplets of rain first hit the corrugated iron roof, everyone moved through the gears to load up the equipment van so we could get home and not be forced to sleep here overnight. The equipment van set off and the rest of us waited for the team minibus to return from dropping home some patients. Minutes later the inevitable phone call explaining it was stuck was received. Two of the guys ran to find it (thankfully the rain was over) and help get it moving. As is usually the case here, lots of locals will come out to help and with shared good will and energy applied in the right way we were free and heading home.
The clinic is packed when we arrive
We are stuck…
The short walk to the clinic site
The rains are coming!
Today is “Mission Thursday” I am explaining to Lucas the list of jobs we have to do in town, these often require a lot of waiting around so the bag is packed with entertainment. Andrew is not in the field today which means we have the van and a long list of jobs to accomplish.
We jump into the van, the three of us all in a row on the three front seats. We park up near the post office and I find the yellow slips to collect two parcels addressed to Lucas. You can wait for hours for a parcel and then frequently have to pay £1.25 for each parcel plus customs charges, plus service charges and taxes, all at different counters!
We wait in the seemingly disorganised room with parcels on many shelves and hand over the yellow slips, they chat away in swahilli and we fully expect to camp out here for the rest of the morning. “Is there a problem?” I ask. 20 minutes later we walk out carrying a huge parcel from uncle Pete and auntie Danielle (thank you!) all the way from Malaysia, some early grey tea bags (thank you Lucie!) and a parcel from Holland (thank you Chris and Aline!), yep that’s three parcels. There was in fact no problem, amazingly the lady had remembered our name and knew we had a recent parcel for which we did not yet have a yellow card, also they didn’t charge us any customs charges or hidden extras. The whole process was only 45 minutes, and despite Andrew having a random conversation with one attendant about why the parcel was labelled to Lucas but Lucas wasn’t signing for it, “He is 2 and doesn’t know how to sign…” we did not have to stay all morning and we moved on to the next job.
Next stop is collecting our “alien” cards from immigration, fairly effortlessly we picked them up, they were already out of date mind, but the lady there was very helpful in supporting us getting our residency sorted which has been a very long process and we don’t quite understand the current hold up!
Lucas has been waiting all week for the next stop, it’s top secret as its the wedding table gifts for Andrew’s sister’s wedding, all I can say is, it’s been an incredible tool for teaching Lucas the days of the week as he knew he had to wait until Thursday and he was soo excited to pick them up!
Afterwards we drove a little out of town to the “Cheese Palace”. Red cow is a local cheese that is Dutch inspired and is half the price of the supermarkets! We loaded up with a month’s supply.
Along the same road as “Cheese Palace” are rows and rows of plants for sale. Instead of what we might know as nurseries, here they have row upon row of incredible exciting looking flowers, plants, fruit trees all grown on the sides of the road in old cement sacks. “Operation Roof Garden” took on some expansion with two roses, hibiscus, and some beautiful green looking plants, don’t know what they are yet. Andrew of course had to bargain the prices down, you can take the boy out of Egypt but you can’t take the Egyptian out of the boy! We loaded up the van with our new plants and as Lucas would say “exciting” and I’m very happy with the improved roof garden!
With such a successful morning, minimal waiting, expectations surpassed and even the quality of the top secret wedding favours, it was time for Lucas to sleep and stopped in our favourite place for a spot of lunch and coffee before picking up all the week’s groceries, Lucas even woke up at lunch and ate loads! All in all a successful morning!
Our meeting with the Ujima foundation director went incredibly well. We are very encouraged at the amazing vision they have and what they are achieving. In a year they train 60 people in Nakuru and 150 in Kisumu, mainly girls aged 18-23 who are orphans caring for two or more younger siblings. The training is for 6 months, 3 months theory, 3 months practical and whilst they are training the Ujima foundation pay the school fees and expenses of the younger siblings to allow the trainees to focus fully on their studies and not having to do menial tasks. They have an impressive 80% who retain employment afterwards.
Areas we were particularly encouraged by are they focus on the trainees attitude, the program helps them to no longer see themselves as victims but as young people with potential. They are keen to partner with Jamii Bakery and when the time comes we are excited to meet potential staff.
We discussed further issues such as business plans, forecasting and the legal elements. One of our next steps we will be meeting with a lawyer here to outline the agreements of people involved, setting it up as an NGO (charity status) and how to do that so it is joint with Kenya and the UK. Overall it was very helpful and we are thankful the director is willing to advise and support us as the bakery comes together.
I’ve made Battenburg before and I have to admit, it is so satisfying when you have the cake ready, marzipan waiting, buttercream waiting and it’s time to assemble it, I was equally excited to make my own marzipan I made a cooked one just as extra precaution rather than using raw eggs here, it came out well but a little dry and prone to cracking, I think maybe I should have used 3 large eggs, but it tasted good! Also fact of the day: The original pink and white Battenburg cake was made to honor the marriage of queen Victoria’s granddaughter to prince Louis of Battenberg.
Battenburg with homemade Marzipan!
This is Mary Berry’s coffee and walnut recipe.
100g unsalted butter
100g castor sugar
2 large free range eggs
100g self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
50g ground almonds
Few drops vanilla extract
3 tsp milk
1 1/2 tsp coffee granules
25g walnuts (I used cashew nuts, walnuts are very expensive)
For the coffee butter icing
100g icing sugar
40g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp coffee granules
To finish 225g marzipan
1. Make the marzipan*
2. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC
3. Line a 20cm baking tin with parchment, it needs to be divided in half either double the recipe and make two one vanilla and one coffee or divide the tin using tinfoil covered with baking parchment so the divide stands in the middle of the tin.
4. Place all the ingredients (apart from the nuts) in a mixing bowl and beat together.
5. Split the mixture in half, to one half add the vanilla, to the other add coffee and walnuts
Add the walnuts (or alternative, I used cashews) at the end and mix in.
6. Add the mixture to the tin, half vanilla and half coffee and bake for 20 minutes.
7. Let it cool then turn it out and cut in to 4 even strips and trim edges so each strip is of equal length.
8. Make the buttercream (can be done whilst sponge is baking in the oven) by beating the butter, icing sugar and coffee together.
9. Stick a vanilla and coffee sponge strip together with buttercream then cover all sides with the buttercream and align the strips on top (opposite way round) and ensure all sides and edges are covered in the cream.
10. Roll out the marzipan to a 2-3mm thickness and wrap around the buttercream coasted sponge. Using your tumbs create a pattern on the top. Decorate with nuts.
* Please see the next blog.
We are having problems with local graffiti artists…