Sitting down for a meal together is an activity that many families enjoy. The same is true in Malawi and one of the great things about the foster homes is that as the children grow up, they have this opportunity. As they grow, they can also become more involved with meal preparations. It’s both a valuable life skill, being able to cook and eat together but it is also a way of bonding with siblings as they share stories of the day and enjoy each other’s company.
Chikondi at Tsekwe House was very proud when she made her first pot of nsima independently. Anna, her House Mother, encourages each of the children to get involved. She might ask Sam to pop down the street to buy fresh bread from the neighbour’s window shop. Everyone loves being trusted to help and they all take pride in their cooking!
It’s great fun when the vegetable seller calls down the street too. She carries a massive basket of vegetables on her head. The children of the house will quickly get their Mum so together they can see what has come from the gardens and choose what they need. Fresh fruit and vegetables are a key part of the childrens’ diet which supports their health and development as they grow into young adults.
The sights and sounds of the marketplace
A trip into town to the busy market provides so many sights of small traders and entrepreneurs. You might see tin buckets being made, or snacks for sale that were cooked at someone’s home in the wee hours. More than stocking the cupboards, it’s a chance to learn to barter and see how so many people earn their living.
During the school week, it’s mostly the Mothers who cook, and the children might help with the cleanup. On the weekend there are important jobs, like drying the maize in the sun, which help children learn new skills that they will need for independent living one day.
Children also have time to make treats, like the traditional drink Thobwa, which is made with porridge flour and is quite thick and creamy. It’s a grey colour, and when sweetened is a good Malawian energy drink. The boys love it when they come back from football!
Meals in the foster homes are more than nourishment, they are a connection to the community and traditions around them, and a step towards looking after themselves.