Tuesday was our first Family Nutrition Seminar with the Muchui Women’s group. It was supposed to start at 10:30 am, but Mama Jen didn’t even pick us up until 10:10 am, then we had to stop at the Barrier Market to pick up one of the champs and Martin, and to switch from her vehicle to the Gypsy. On the way to the center, we also had to stop at her farm to check on her worker, who was conveniently no where to be found, so we spent about 15 minutes looking for him before he finally showed up. By the time we got to the center it was almost 11:00 am. We were expecting to walk into the center to have 30+ women sitting waiting for us, but as we entered the room, there were only about 10 women. Jen had a second meeting that same afternoon and wanted us to be leaving the center at 1:00 pm by the very latest, so she urged us to start at about 11:20 am regardless of the 12 person audience. The group was very quiet at first. It was discouraging because whenever we asked the group questions, they responded with blank stares. The first half of the session was probably the worst first half we have had yet. We’re not sure if the small group made people not want to speak up, or if Mama Jen was intimidating, or if maybe they just did not quite understand everything. The champs arrived and we served the food and were relieved to have a short break from presenting a it was almost painful with such a quiet and small group. As they ladies ate lunch, they all began to talk amongst themselves and became more lively. The food was sooooo good! We had Mukimo, Githeri, and Chapatti with pumpkin, sweet potato and onion in them, and we brought a fruit salad for dessert. They wanted us to bring a Canadian dish but we really struggled to try to think of something using the ingredients grown in their farms or that would be readily available to them. Cyrus, our chef had made a really good fruit salad with pineapple, banana, orange and lime juice the night before so we ended up stealing his idea. Although the women already eat fruit, they had never had it in a salad form before.
After lunch, we had the champs explain the recipes they each prepared to the group. The champs were so awesome; they were happy and proud and smiling from ear to ear. Having the champs prepare and explain the meals was a stroke of genius. Not only are they much better at cooking Kenyan food than we are, but they were able to explain in detail their recipes to the women, and everything was prepared using methods that the women are familiar with and could relate to. Even the champs were amazed at how well our tips worked in the preparation of their dishes. For example, Katherine who prepared the Githeri, said that she soaked the beans and maize all day, starting at 8 am and had planned to cooked it overnight since the session was so early in the morning. She was shocked when the beans and maize were already cooked after only 40 minutes! It was really great for the Champs to be able to share their experiences with the women, and the women really opened up after hearing from them. The end of the session went really well, much better than the first half. After the evaluation was completed, an old woman stood up to say thank you to us on behalf of the group. She told us that she had never been able to eat unpolished maize before because she had trouble chewing it and had issues digesting it. When she tasted the foods prepared with soaked unpolished maize, she could not believe how soft and easy to eat the maize was. When she found out it was unpolished and soaked, she told us that she would never eat polished maize ever again and was so grateful that we were able to teach her a way to enjoy unpolished maize since it was so much more nutritious than the polished variety. Martin also sat in on our session and vigorously took notes the whole time. Even he stood up after the presentation and told us that we had changed his life by teaching him the tips from our session. He witnessed Katherine’s 40-minute githeri and it apparently blew his mind. Apparently men never make githeri because they work all day and then don’t have the 8 hours in the evening it takes to prepare. Now that he knows he can soak it during the day and have githeri in 40 minutes, he will teach the other men at the Barrier to make githeri, which is more nutritious than the ugali they currently eat everyday.
The Family Session was unbelievably rewarding. We were blown away by how well received we were and how appreciative the women were. They’re only request was that we give the presentation to people in the community and not just women in the Muchui Women’s Group. They told us that they would tell as many people in the community as they could about what they learned in our session. Needless to say we had the biggest grins possible on our faces leaving the center and were so absolutely pumped and empowered to have had such a positive impact on the women.Wednesday was our first Healthy Baby Seminar at the hospital but it did not go nearly as well as the Family Session. No mothers ended up showing up and we don’t think Christine was completely sure of exactly who we would be talking to. We sat at the hospital for a few hours waiting for someone to figure out what was going on but it seemed as though everyone was a little confused. Eventually, after explaining for the fifth time what our presentation was about and that we were hoping on speaking to a large group of mothers with babies younger than 2 years, we came to a mutual agreement that we would schedule an extra day the week after next to speak to the mothers to make up for today that was a bust. We’re crossing our fingers that more women show up next time. We are going to put up a sign advertising the session at the hospital on Monday.