By Minttu-Maaria Partanen
A smell of freshly baked bread coming from a house in Havanna in Katutura hangs in the air. Inside, roll upon roll of warm bread wait for someone to pick up.
Freida Nagwena has just finished another shift in the bakery. The next morning, she is going to sell the bread to local people with her co-workers.
“Now we are five women working in the bakery. There used to be men in the project but they left because this is such a hard work,” Nagwena laughs heartily.
Nagwena is the project leader in the bakery project, which is supervised by Elcin – Diakonia in the City. Elcin helped the project get off the ground in 2006 with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.
Now the project’s goal is to run on it’s own money that comes from the selling of own products.
At the moment, the workers can buy flour and other ingredients for the bread with the money they get from selling bread.
If there is money left, half of it goes to the project’s account and half to the workers. The City of Windhoek helps the project by letting workers collect firewood from its dumping areas.
“Our goal is to help the people to help themselves, not just to give and give them everything. Giving is easy but that does not provide any future for the community,” Elcin’s project manager, Gerson Neliwa, explains the principles of the project.
Nagwena’s workday starts at 07h00. First she measures the ingredients with her co-workers. Then they make bread dough, clean the place, fetch water and clean their workplace again, ignite a fire and start to bake bread.
After that, it is time to sell freshly baked bread rolls to local people.
At the end of the day, they would have baked over a 100 small loaves of bread and around 20 big ones.
“The local people are very happy that we are baking the bread here. Now they do not have to walk long distances to the shop to buy bread or to send their children to do that.
“In the morning, we have a queue in front of our door of people who want to buy bread,” Nagwena explains.
According to her, the best thing about the project is that she now knows everything about baking bread.
“They can send me anywhere and I could start a new bread baking project, because we learnt to bake bread. With electricity, I think I can even work in a real bakery.
“Here we bake with firewood so I’m experienced in that too.”
In future Neliwa hopes they can find a big market place to sell bread. Elcin owns a plot in Katutura where they are building a structure for their community projects.
The bread could be sold there. Also, they hope the bread would be sold to local soup kitchens that feed local children. That way, it would be easier to sell the bread and local people would know where to get it.