In March 2014, Maisha opened a new two-story kitchen facility for the feeding project in Kenya. The 2,570 square foot kitchen is a drastic change from the 180 square foot mud hut kitchen used previously. The new space provides resources and tools for feeding over 600 children and widows healthy meals in a safe, healthy environment. The cooks call it the “Paradise Kitchen.”
The kitchen is now a sanitary space for everyone to use. Indoor plumbing and running water help make this possible. Instead of hauling endless buckets of water for cooking and cleaning, cooks and volunteers now turn on a faucet directly where it’s needed in the kitchen.
A new dishwashing room connected to the dining area allows dishes to be washed inside, versus outside on the ground with the help of chickens and dogs. The space ensures children and widows eat on clean and safe dishes.
Before, the large heavy pots of scalding-hot food had to be carried across the campus, burning hands and exposing the children to airborne disease. A new serving area decreases the risk of contracting airborne diseases by allowing the children to be fed directly from the kitchen.
A slab floor has replaced the old dirt floor. The new floor is cleaned daily and makes a more sanitary area to cook and consume food.
Each day, as the children wait in line to enter the serving area, they now pass a hand washing station on the outside wall of the kitchen.
The kitchen is not only sanitary, but it has also reached a new level of efficiency. Many modifications were made to the facility to equip the staff to serve larger numbers of children in a smaller time frame.
Cooking in the old kitchen was a problem due to the cook stove’s poor heat retention. Firewood constantly needed to be fed into the stoves. The cooks are now able to use four times less firewood to prepare meals and food is cooked in around 2.75 hours – reducing cook time by half.
Smoke was a serious issue in the old kitchen, filling lungs and stinging eyes. These were extremely poor working conditions for the cooks. However, they remained dedicated hard workers, ensuring the children were fed each day. Ventilation ducts now vent smoke directly from the cookers to outside. What you see in the picture below is the steam coming off the food when the lid was lifted off to stir. Now only the onions remain to give the cooks “tears of joy.”
The cutting counter was built at standing height, unlike the old counter. Cooks had to bend and stoop to prepare meals in the old kitchen, but are now able to stand upright in a comfortable position while prepping food.
In addition to all of the new features, the kitchen is in a better location. Formerly the kitchen was located by the livestock pens, making disease a threat. The new kitchen was built as an addition to the Maisha Center next to the Shambas of Maisha (Gardens of Life.) The gardens give an additional tool for children to receive optimal nutrition. The newly built water tower sits between the garden and kitchen, which both channel water from the new deep source well.
The large water storage barrels are being put into position on the water tower. In addition, rainwater collection gutters are in the process of being installed on the kitchen and Maisha center to provide another resource for obtaining water. This is a great leap forward in Maisha’s sustainable water plan and securing water for future generations.
The kitchen provides a safe place for meals, increased sanitation and health as well as teaching, and learning in the training rooms upstairs. It truly is paradise!
See the Kitchen Video
To see the kitchen in action, check out our video, “A Tale of Two Kitchens” at http://bit.ly/1pzSEPj.