I don’t like porridge. Horrid lumpy stuff that feels a bit too worthy for my liking. You eat it because it is slow release blah de blah but in reality what you really want is an almond croissant. Well you do if you are me.
And then I heard about something called Power Porridge and suddenly porridge sounded a bit more interesting. Power Porridge is made at the one of 20 projects supported by the Omega Foundation. The project helps women who have lost their husbands and who are living with HIV to set up their own business.
Money raised by Red Nose Day helped provide one group of women, with the start up funds needed to buy ingredients and tools which they then used to make a very special porridge. This “Power Porridge” is given to other women living with HIV to make sure they have the right nutrition to take life saving Anti-Retroviral drugs. As more women become stronger the group became larger and they have begun to make more porridge to give to other women in the community who are desperately ill. The group even manage to sell a small amount to pay for their children’s school fees and medical bills.
They are literally being empowered by porridge. It is an incredible thing to witness.
We were welcomed into the group like old friends and immediately wanted to stay forever. We listened to a presentation first of all and then we heard a bit about each ingredient and why it is so important.
I was fascinated by the fact that egg shells are crushed and included. They contain zinc and have been proven beneficial to people with joint problems. The ladies laughed and loved that I shared how I thought I might try this out with my granny who has joint problems and is 86. The idea that they had taught us something, that is not to throw out egg shells, seemed to really tickle these ladies.
We giggled in return when they told us that pumpkin seeds are added for porridge for the men “when they are down and need to get up”. This was followed by “if your bed is uncomfortable as a woman you need to make it comfortable. If you add pumpkin seeds to the porridge you bed will be comfortable”.
Nudge nudge wink wink
We then heard from Margaret who had gone from being bed ridden but thanks to the porridge she was now up and about and having a second wind. She was fantastic and a great advert for the project.
After we had looked at all the ingredients we saw them being mixed in specific quantities and then went off to see them being milled and turned into flour. It was a good half an hour walk to the building that housed the mill, and the ladies carried 5kg of ingredients in baskets on their heads, in the mid day sun, without batting an eyelid.
Once it was brought back, the ladies that had stayed behind had built a fire and boiled water to mix the flour into a porridge that is actually a drink rather than the usual consistency. And I can truly say it was lovely.
And when I sat back and thought about where I was and what the porridge represented it tasted even sweeter.
I am in love with these women and this project. Inspiring is an overused word this weekend but I can’t think of another one.