The local people of Malindi are remarkably resourceful and smart, but they face a number of social and systemic inequities that often result in problems such as heavy drug addiction, public health crises, prostitution, unemployment, child sex trafficking, and radicalization. Currently, many of male youths spend most of their time on the beaches as they try to make a living selling anything they can from crafts, safaris, jewelry, fish, and unfortunately even sex to the tourists. These “beach boys” would particularly benefit from our program, and having spent time with them during an information-gathering trip, they expressed significant interest in our idea of the cooking school.
By facilitating training and guidance in cooking and food preparation, we hope to empower young Kenyans to influence and grow their community’s “foodie” culture, improve their livelihood prospects, and combat some of the prevailing social and economic inequities.
On one hand, there is a thriving tourism and food industry in need of skilled workers, and on the other hand there are resourceful local youths in need of employment. The idea behind Foodies Without Borders is simply to fill the gap by empowering young, local entrepreneurs to benefit from and expand the food industry in their communities.
Located on the Kenyan coast, the town of Malindi relies heavily on its tourism industry and caters to its large population of Italian expatriates. Despite the booming tourism and food culture, many Kenyans are not benefiting from the money tourism produces. The immense contrast between the brilliant five-star, foreign-owned resorts and inhumane living conditions of the locals shows there is significant opportunity to close the social and economic gap that exists between the wealthy tourist industry and the local communities. Part of Malindi’s inequity problem is that despite youths’ aptitude and eagerness to work, they do not have access to training that would enable them to find employment. Foodies Without Borders would address this problem by bringing the necessary training and equipment to them.
Malindi serves as an ideal place to launch our pilot project because of its high youth demographic and already thriving restaurant and food culture.
A number of brand resorts, hotels, and restaurants in Malindi have already agreed to host internships for students who complete the workshop. These internships will provide extensive experience, potentially leading to full time employment within the industry as well as the creation of new start-up restaurants by the students.
Our organization relies heavily on a well-organized and coordinated teams of volunteer professionals to promote and build on the vocational skills many of the youth already poses. This team will be formed by over-seas volunteers, predominantly from the US, as well as permanent local members based in Kenya.
There are also opportunities for families, food enthusiasts, volunteers and US-based restaurants to sponsor students, and donate cooking supplies as well as participating on our upcoming mission trips to Africa in 2017.