2016 – Visiting two Bake for Life bakeries

1 May 2016

It is well known that the Kaak Group is an important sponsor of the Bake for Life projects.
The philosophy behind Bake for Life is to offer underprivileged people with disabilities in Africa the chance to live a reasonable life by setting up small-scale projects in which artisan bakeries form the common thread. With the support of the local monastic order “Little Sisters of St. Francis” fantastic work is being done and continuity guaranteed.

Update 2016

At the end of March 2016, we traveled to East Africa, led by Marleen Pater (president of Bake for Life), in a mixed company of “ambassadors” for Bake for Life.
On this impressive journey various Bake for Life projects were visited.

The first visit was to the Kevina Bakery in Budaka, recently adopted as the second bakery by the Kaak Group and Wouter de Graaf bakeries. We were welcomed by Sister Margaret and we met the Kenyan Sister Petronilla, a new contact person for Bake for Life who would accompany us the rest of the week.
We were impressively welcomed by the handicapped children and the staff of this “settlement”, where the children introduced themselves and sang and entertained us with music and dance.

Bake for Life sisters
Sister Maraget (l) and Sister Petronilla (r)

 

In return we Mzungu’s (white skins in Swahili) performed the nursery rhymes “head shoulders knee and toe …”. The children soon participated, as far as their handicaps allowed and they were in possession of the parts of the body sung …

We gave the sisters the gifts we brought for the children, Laurence shot polaroid photos of the children, who had never seen a photo of themselves, and we visited the bakery.
The bakery was reopened “more or less” and Jan Kaak gave an impressive speech to all attendees with the main message: “Disable does not mean unable!”

It is impressive to see how the physically and partly mentally handicapped children and employees can still be so happy and grateful with the opportunity offered to them. We were all silent and realized how beautiful and good the projects are that are being implemented by Bake for Life.
We then visited the adjoining, very simply furnished “hospital”. Paul van de Meeberg handed over very useful items from the Slingeland hospital and Christel took the opportunity to provide some young mothers with beautiful maternity clothes.
After a few leisure activities and a further introduction to Ugandan culture, we traveled to Kenya on Saturday. A nice experience, the border passage at Malaba. The passage takes some time, but gives a special atmosphere; by all traders, passers-by and shady figures, it is just like a scene for an exciting James Bond movie.

We travel on to Bungoma. On the way we visit the parental home of Sister Petronilla, meet an important part of her family and are treated to a delicious meal. We travel on to Bungoma and receive a very festive and hospitable welcome from the staff at the bakery, most of whom are very cheerful but also severely disabled.

We get something to drink, view the production and receive an explain about how the business functions, what the division of tasks is. Subsequently, we “lend a hand” to the production….
We then prepare to paint the bakery from the outside. With 12 strong males / females we organize improvised scaffolding and ladders. It takes a while for the paint to arrive, but luckily we have the tools with us. Disciplined, cooperative, harmonious and task-conscious, we set to work …. and after two days of hard work, the bakery is back on track.

The improvisation talent of the Mzungus turns out to be amazing again!

The bakery in Bungoma (Kenya) is looking bright again!

After a long second day of painting, the job is done and we invite the staff and their families for an evening meal and a pleasant evening. With incredible pleasure, singing and dancing we conclude the stay in Kenya.
The next day we ride the bus – faithfully and solidly driven by our regular driver Alex – back to Uganda. We visit the Bake for Life College training institute in Tororo and receive explanations from the students themselves.

The students tell their story uneasily but proudly. Despite their handicap, they take BFL’s chance with two hands (or sometimes with just one). For the three-year course, exams must be taken in Nairobi (Kenya). Here too we visit the bakery and listen to the enthusiastic stories.

The bakers are motivated at work and enjoy their work and with each other. It makes us happy. They produce an average of 2,500 toast breads per day and around 900 buns.

Then we are introduced to the BISS project (formerly KISS): Bake It Smart & Simple.
BISS is in fact a kind of micro credit, intended for the disabled or parents of disabled children who are forced to stay at home by their circumstances.
They get a table, a scale (for the right ratio of raw materials) and an oil pan, in which the bread is baked (just like we “bake” dumplings). With the target of earning around 5000 Ugandan Schillingen per day, roughly € 1.50.
They themselves have to provide a space (eg shed or hut) in which the “bakery” can be housed.

As soon as a “bakery” runs profitably (a run-up of a few months is acceptable), the micro credit needs to be repaid within a reasonable period of time.
They get the training / instruction from BFL for free and remain under “supervision” of BFL.
It is nice to see that the disabled again have a good chance in life for the basic necessities of life but certainly also their self-esteem. The motivation is fantastic and the output of such a group of disabled people is very high!

Disability is not inability!

We are all very impressed and continue to talk extensively about our special experiences during the last two days of the trip.

We enjoyed this special introduction to Uganda and its inhabitants.
We are back on our feet again, a beautiful experience enriched by, among other things, this wonderful lesson in humility.

Bake for Life does a great job and we are proud that the Kaak group makes an important contribution to this and achieves visible results.

Bake for Life is another highly motivated group of ambassadors richer!