Excuse the long silence but I have been away for a few weeks…
I visited Botswana, in southern Africa, to volunteer at an orphan nursery and pre-school/day centre in Maun, a small town in the north of the country.
I heard about this project through some Australian friends of mine who built this school and others like it, all over Botswana, a country that has a major problem with HIV and as a result, a lot of orphans.
Traditionally, in Botswana and other African countries, someone in the family or village takes care of an orphan but sadly these guardians may not always give the best care. One issue, for example, is that they are often very old, as it’s most commonly grandparents looking after their orphaned grandchildren and they are simply not able to give young active toddlers the full attention they require. To help with this, my friend started to build centres like the “Place of Joy” I visited, a preschool/nursery that functions as a day care centre and gives the orphans, who are usually from poor backgrounds, a chance to attend a preschool (there are no free state run ones) which gives them a good start into education, regular meals and also offers some relief to their care takers. Not all the children at the school are orphans however, as the idea is not to make them feel like special needs cases but treat them exactly the same way as the other kids, whose parents pay school fees. All children get their lunch and breakfast at school every day and I thought I’d share the recipe for their daily breakfast porridge with you.
Before my trip I was a little worried if I’ll like Africa’s porridge like maize meal “pap”, which is often is eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In Botswana, it’s popular with sour milk for lunch, or as an accompaniment to a meat or pumpkin stew for dinner… and I did like it, especially as a savoury dish. But what I liked even more was Botswana’s breakfast porridge, which is made from sorghum rather than maize – as you can see on the photos, the kids like it too!
It’s darker than maize meal porridge and has a light nutty flavour. Sorghum is a grass/cereal crop very popular in a lot of African countries as it grows very well in harsh, dry areas and is rich in fibre, iron and protein, so a good food staple for the developing world. For the porridge, the grain is used as flour, which depending on where you live, you should be able to find in African shops or health food stores.
To make the porridge for 2-3 people, you’ll need:
- 1 cup sorghum flour (millet flour may work as a substitute)
- 3-4 cups water (adjusted to individual consistency preferences)
- an extra cup water
- 2 tbsp sugar plus extra for serving
- a little milk, if desired
Mix flour with ½ cup cold water.
Bring remaining water to boil, add the flour mixture, and stir until the bubbles start to bubble up. It’s important to stir continuously until then as the porridge can easily go lumpy (which is also why the flour gets mixed with some cold water before being added to the boiling water).
Cook for 10-15 minutes until smooth and thick, stirring occasionally.
Add an extra cup of water and the sugar to sweeten.
Serve warm, with a little more sugar sprinkled on top and, if you like, a little bit of milk to give it a slightly creamier taste.
If you want to know more about the Place of Joy or help out, please send me a message or see: http://www.botswanaorphanproject.com/