Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Agnes the Cook

by Thomas Bwire

Agnes Adongo is the cook at the Uweza center, but as many of the kids in Uweza programme will tell you, Agnes is much more than a cook. She has taken the Uweza’s mission as her own.  Agnes, aged 32 years, lives in Olympic, one of the estates in Kibera, with her husband and four children, whom 3 are boys and one girl.

She joined the Uweza family in June of last year, 2011.  She says that working here brings joy and personal fulfillment as she is adored as a mother by the kids who come to the center, after their school day and served a  cup of hot porridge.

Her day at the center starts at 4pm and ends at 6.30 pm.  Upon her arrival, she heads to the kitchen located at one of the corners within the center premises and lights the jiko (Swahili for stove) using charcoal.

This takes less than five minutes and once the jiko is ready, she heads back to the kitchen and starts preparing the meal provided by the center to all the Uweza kids.  She took me through her preparation process of the porridge. “First put water into the sufuria (pot), give it some time to boil, say 15 minutes.

As you leave the water to boil, make a fine paste of flour using cold water with a clean bucket and stir it until it becomes thick and mixed well.

Then pour the paste into the boiling water and stir until it all starts releasing some bubbles. Add sugar that is enough for intake depending on the number of people you are cooking for. "Give it 10 more minutes and your porridge is ready," Agnes finishes with a smile and all this time under the watch of her little daughter.

By this time, one of the rooms hosting some of the students is almost full and students present are undertaking their school assignments silently. A hot steamy cup of porridge is served as each student gets a share and says “asante mathe” meaning thank you mum. Besides the students, staff members also get served a cup of porridge.

Upon completion, Agnes quickly washes the dishes and once she is done with all the kitchen chores, she bids me farewell and off she goes.

When asked about Agnes, Managing Director Jennifer Sapitro commented, "She is amazing. She consistently goes beyond the call of duty and demonstrates what participatory development and community service are about.”

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