When we made the decision to pull our programs out of Knar Primary School and build a Center in the village, one of the sticking points for us (and the students) was the loss of our ability to give students breakfast every day. We’re happy to report that challenge has been overcome!
Running breakfast inside the school, we got subsidies from the World Food Program in the form of rice, tins of fish & cooking oil which cut down considerably on cost. Additionally, we had invested in a large, working kitchen. At the new Center, we had none of these things and it took us a little while to put the pieces together in a new way.
PLF has always been about approaching all challenges in a “step-by-step” method. Start small & build. In this way any mistakes made can be small ones, we can learn from them and then build organically. That’s how we approached this project as well. Once we decided there was no need to try and match the kitchen we left behind and allowed ourselves to just start over and keep everything simple, it came together effortlessly.
Behind the classroom building was a tractor shed that the landlord had thrown together to keep the rain off his farming implements. We looked at that old shed and immediately thought “Kitchen!”
The landlord was nice enough to move everything out and we got busy putting in a floor, building cabinets and bought some portable wood-burning stoves.
The students were put on task to bring small bundles of firewood from home. PLF staff went back to our old sellers at Preah Dak and organized menus and transport. Then it was finding a cook and we were lucky to get the mom of one of our grade 12 scholarship students to come on board.
The first meals were served on Monday to the utter delight of all the students. The cook needs to show up at 4 am to have everything ready and even on day one it was served right on time. We’re extremely gratified to be able to put the food program in place as we have found around 2/3 of primary school students in rural areas leave home in the morning without breakfast. Studying all morning in the heat without a proper breakfast is more than what any child should be asked to do.
With the food prep going so well, the next challenge is to get some sort of “dining hall” built before the rainy season arrives. But for now, with a big bowl of hot lovely food in hand, no one seems to mind.
Many thanks to our friends at Eyes-Open for helping us get this program moving!