Welcome to the Wordloaf Friday Bread Basket, a weekly roundup of links and items relating to bread, baking, and grain. This week I have bread-related two fundraising appeals to share with you.
An extraordinary bakery for refugees in Uganda
Many of you already know Jeffrey Hamelman. He was the long-time director of the King Arthur Flour Bakery in Norwich, VT, a founder of King Arthur’s Baking School, and the author of Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes, a classic book of bread that is now in it’s 3rd edition. (Jeffrey is a friend and also one of my first teachers in bread baking.)
Recently he has been involved in a project to train refugees in Uganda to bake bread, and is currently raising funds to help build them a bakery large enough to support their entire community:
For the past year and a half, I’ve been volunteering to train refugees in baking at Oruchinga, the oldest refugee settlement in Uganda. To date, I have made three trips, totaling two months. Working together shoulder to shoulder, eating together, laughing and baking together, playing with the children—it has been such a life-altering experience, for the refugees of course, but equally for me. The refugees come from Rwanda, Burundi, and Congo, countries rife with war and civil unrest; each of them carries deep trauma from the unimaginable horrors that forced them to leave their homelands. They all have compelling stories . . .
And now they have a foothold—the bakers, almost all of whom are women, have skills, a small salary, and bread for themselves and their families (these are profoundly beneficial, not least because they receive just $3.48 per month from the UN for subsistence). Most importantly, these beautiful people are empowered. A further rippling repercussion is that we have distributed many thousands of buns and loaves to the most vulnerable people in the settlement—the children. The elation on their faces when they receive bread is indescribable, as is the abject despair we see on the faces of those whose pounding bellies go without when the bread is gone . . . A foundational commitment of the bakery is the Feeding Friday initiative, the bringing of breads to as many of the children as possible.
Speaking personally, I have been on six continents during my baking life, and I have never—never—been in a country more compelling than Uganda.
The original bakery space provided a good start, but it was not suitable for the long term. A village elder, who believes in the refugees and the mission of the bakery, offered a long-term lease on part of his banana farm, and a large space has been cleared. It is a great location, being in the main village of the refugee settlement. Now the women will not have to walk so far to and from work (many with a young child strapped to their back), and it will be much easier for local people to access the products. A building has been erected that will serve as a kitchen, making hot foods to sell, and now it is time to build the bakery space.
The projected cost for the construction of the bakery and purchasing of equipment is approximately $20,000. The contribution you make to this GoFundMe campaign will be used solely for those purposes. If more than enough is secured, the extra will go to ingredient procurement, salaries for the refugees (they earn about $53 per month), and other bakery expenses.
If you’d like to contribute to this effort, you can read more here:
Support for Melina Kelson & family
Melina Kelson is a baker and baking instructor, longtime board member and staff member at the Bread Baker’s Guild of America, and a director of all three of the guild’s WheatStalk bread conferences. (She is also a friend of mine.) Last month Melina’s husband Pete Podolsky died suddenly, and her friends have organized a fundraiser to help them pay funeral and medical expenses. If you know Melina (or if you’d just want to support a fellow baker in need), consider donating to the drive:
That’s it for this week’s bread basket. I hope you all have a peaceful weekend, see you on Monday.
This is lovely, Andrew. So sorry for Melina’s loss. The bread community does seem healing. I have a good friend who has traveled to help in Uganda for 20 or more years. I will forward your newsletter to Evelyn in the hopes she can share the news of a possible bakery with people who might support it.