In the states I was afraid of tofu. I thought that it was a food that only hippies ate. It looked freaky; no color. It sounded freaky; takes on the taste of whatever you cook it in. I never even had soy milk before I came to Cameroon! Seeing as I joined the "Hippie Army" I figured that I needed to try it out! My first time drinking soy milk and eating tofu was when I made it with Samantha, another PCV. Since then I have been hooked. I have made it before in my house and once with a small group, but never in a formal training setting. I couldn't stop talking about the nutritional benefits to everyone I met.
Last month I saw a friend, Bouba, in town and we sat and started talking. Bouba's friend asked me what is something that I wish I could have done in Meiganga but I just haven't done yet. I responded, "TOFU!!!" I explained the nutritional benefits of it and Bouba and Hamman were sold! That day we planned out a training for 28 community members on how to make soy milk and tofu.
Malnutrition is a huge issue where I live. People grow soy beans, but just do not know how important and beneficial they are.
1 kilo of soy beans cost 500 cfa or about $1. There is the same amount of protein in 1 kilo of soy beans as 3 kilos of beef (7200 cfa or $14.50), 13 liters of milk (2000 cfa or $4) AND 60 eggs (4500 cfa or $9). That is a 13,200 cfa or $26.50 savings!!!
Samantha McLean, a health volunteer about 17km away, came to talk about the health benefits of soy beans. We also covered hand washing! Before anyone came to volunteer with cooking they had to go wash their hands. It made for good practice!
Overall the training went extremely well. We had a few hiccups along the way, like having no chairs and not enough space for the training. But we got chairs and held the training outside. We drank soy milk, ate tofu kebabs, and prepared the tofu like ground meat. People asked thoughtful questions and were eager to participate. It has been about a little over a week since the training and I already have people stopping me in market saying they have made it!
We ended the training by saying we are community agents. We have to share this information with our neighbors. We are members of the Meiganga Community! With this information, hopefully, malnutrition will reduce.
Next Step: I am doing a follow up meeting on June 15th to make soap with the group members. This will be my last training in Meiganga. My official close of service date is July 19th. Where have these 2 years gone??
Samantha teaching a section on the nutritional benefits of soy!
We mixed the tofu with green peppers, tomatoes, garlic and onions.
Checking to see if the tofu was ready. We had a problem that not enough water was draining out.
Me cutting up the tofu.
Bouba enjoying his tofu kebab!
All of the trainees showing off their certificates!
The rock star trainers. None of this would be possible without them!