The kids at Econef (and all over Tanzania as I understand it) have all of December off or Christmas holidays, which means a lot of free time. The younger ones are mostly left at the house with Louisa, the volonteer, to play and tend to their assigned tasks – watering plants, feeding the chicken, sweeping the courtyard, helping out with the cooking. The two eldest boys, Brian who is 16 and Farajah who is 15, come out the the building site where also the farm is located to help out. It’s a pleasure to watch them working so confidently with the animals – feeding them, cleaning their sheds, caring for them. They seem to like it and take pride in it. It makes me reflect on kids at home – do they learn what I call ”life skills” ? A child that knows how to grow food, care for farm animals and cook will have great tools for life no matter what happens. Every child should learn this is what I think. I didn’t learn to care for animals but I did learn the other stuff and it gives me a sense of security and respect for life, the people around me and for the food I eat.
Anyway- as lunch time approaches Farajah comes in to the kitchen to prepare lunch for us (us being Caroline, Saiidi the driver, me, Brian and himself). Todays’ lunch menu is…Fried Rice. And – since I want to share the daily life here I asked him to show me how he cooks this dish so I can share it with you. He approves, he likes to show me how to do things, he’s very methodical and a good teacher. So, here we go, Fried rice a la Econef:
1 – Pour out the rice on a tray. Make sure to pick out any dirt or pieces of sand or stone.
2- Rinse it.
3 – Chop onion and tomato.
4 – Put some cooking oil (we use corn oil) in a pan, turn on the heat, when hot, add the chopped vegetables and some salt. Loer the heat and leave until the onion is getting soft.
5 – Measure the rice and pour it into the pot. Add equal amount of hot water. Stir.
6 – Add some coconut milk, or, as in this case, coco nut milk powder.
7 – Add more water as it gets absorbed by the rice. Stir – you don’t want it to burn. Let it simmer under a lid.
8 – Lift the lid every once in a while to stir and to check the rice.
9 – The dish is ready when the rice is soft.
He lights up when the food is ready, Farajah serves him a plate with a heap or rice – the size of portion only a teenager can eat! They put ketchup on it and sit down on the steps to eat.
Two kittens, that uninvited have moved here and always stick around the house, stay close to them, screaming for food and attention. They greedily eat what is spilled on the floor.
I ask what the young men what professions they dream of in the future: Farajah wants to be an engineer and Brian a pilot. I am eager to follow them on their journey and see what the future has in store for them. Whatever happens, I know that they are two kind, goodhearted, smart, curious guys who live in a loving home and know how to cook, grow food and care for a farm. They speak good English and get a good schooling for now. I pray they will get the opportunity to continue their education as they grow up.
We are all happy with the meal and they go off to play for a while.
Good words to know in Swahili:
Tomato – Nyanya
Onion – Kitunguu
Rice, uncooked – Mchele
Ris, cooked– Wali
All best, Lisen