Tucked into a busy little neighborhood in Awassa and down a wide dirt road, there is a little house with a great big kitchen. I spend my Monday morning there with a few dozen women from all walks of life. Over the last few months, I have taken on teaching cooking classes at Selam’s vocational training program for women.
It’s one of the highlights of my week. These women are all different ages and from all over Ethiopia. They’re in a scholarship program through Selam to learn how to cook and they do an incredible job.
Guests are welcome on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays for a delicious 5-course meal that the trainees prepare and serve. The crowd is a mix of expats and locals and both sets seem to enjoy the cuisine equally.
My dear friend, Roman, is the lead instructor there and she requested my help to teach dessert and bread baking classes. Slowly my course load has evolved into appetizers, soups, and main dishes too, but I’m not complaining. I love spending the day with these women as they laugh at my Amharic skills and I teach the basics of how to measure and whisk and sift and knead. I love the challenge of trying to come up with recipes that use only local ingredients and are doable without a lot of modern kitchen utensils that most of us are accustomed to. So far everything we’ve tried has turned out…for the most part. Next week we’re doing a whole Mexican meal. It should be interesting! I say a little prayer as I convert all the recipes to metric. My Amharic and my math skills are certainly being stretched!
We start with devotions early in the morning and work solidly until noon. Ben and Elaine usually join for lunch and critique our work. Elaine spends the morning at home with LemLem. She’s in heaven when she gets to Selam- so many eager arms to hold her and friends to play with!
So that’s a bright spot in my week. Getting to love these women and watch them grow. This program opens the door to countless job opportunities once they graduate from the progam. It’s really a life changing opportunity for them, and I love watching them transform into confident chefs.