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"Some have food but cannot eat, some can eat but have no food"
Why we are our brother's and sister's keeper
We are growing! Welcome to our new subscribers and paid members. Your support means the world to me. All paid subscriptions this month are being donated to organisations in support of the victims of the Moroccan earthquake, the Libyan floods and the droughts in Sudan and Somalia. Today’s newsletter is sobering, it might be uncomfortable, but it is real life. If you haven’t subscribed yet? What are you waiting for? Click below to subscribe or upgrade to support us.
How are you, darling?
I hope you are happy, well-fed and healthy!
Thank you for being here and for growing with me. We have more and more of you joining our community daily and, I feel blessed but also empowered to keep writing to you, to keep sharing and creating more recipes to transport and inspire you. I feel increasingly more comfortable expressing my thoughts, dreams and plans with you because I am more confident than ever that you are here because you care about what I have to say. You want to travel through food, to escape to a place you may have visited, to a place of your dreams, or a place you never even knew existed. You have generously offered some of your precious time to read this letter because you care, and because we are in this together.
I grew as a Catholic and in a song we sang before lunch in primary school, has been stuck in my mind. It often causes me to pause and reflect.
Some have food but cannot eat, some can eat but have no food…
Tell me, have you read or heard about the earthquake in Morocco, about the floods in Libya or the 4-year-long drought in Sudan and more recently also in Somalia? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, however, if I must share stories from Africa, surely I cannot gloss over tragic events and the daily suffering of our brothers and sisters?
I shared a similar letter with those who will be embarking on our Moroccan retreat next year, specifically about Morocco and I thought I should share it with you too, especially because as a member of our community we do travel together, through recipes and stories. When I started writing these letters to you, my objective was to share African stories and how my experiences as an African woman intersect with everything else and everywhere else, distilled into stories and recipes you can recreate at home. I wanted to elevate and celebrate our diverse food and culture in your consciousness and in a way that the media has not traditionally done.
And so, while I will continue to inspire you with fabulous stories and recipes, with a good dose of African magic, as promised, some of these stories will be joyous and exciting, others, sad and gut-wrenching. You can be rest assured that these stories will always be about the humanity that we all share.
On the night of Friday 8th September 2023 there was a devastating earthquake, with its epicentre in the High Atlas Region. (this is the region in the mountains) A tragedy that has cost so many lives and destroyed homes. Apparently, an earthquake of this magnitude has not happened in over 120 years. We quickly reached out to our friends and partners, who are mainly in Marrakech and Essaouira and most of them have responded and are fine. However, over 2000 lives have been lost and thousands more injured and missing. The tremors were felt far and wide, from Marrakesh to Agadir. Our tour guide, Yousef, who usually does the Marrakesh-Atlas mountain routes, has also responded to let us know he and his family are all safe. The kids were terrified and they, including many others, slept outside for the first few nights, fearing their safety.
In Libya, over 11,000 lives and counting have been lost due to the devastating floods that occurred on 10th September 2023. With another 10,000 or more people missing. Can you imagine such? And millions are suffering the effects of years of drought in Sudan, Somalia and even in the north-east of Nigeria.
As part of our work and commitment to Africa, we have been working with and supporting organisations in several countries who work on various causes from hunger alleviation, child rights and education, women empowerment and more. Where possible, we will continue to forge relationships with locals and boots on the ground in order to listen closely and see clearly, where and how we can be of help.
Tragedies happen every day around the world, and sadly, the more distant it is, perhaps the less connected we may feel towards it. Yes, we all have busy lives and personal burdens. Such tragedies are a stark reminder that we are living on borrowed time, living in a depleting world and no one is safe. With Cook with Lerato, I am committed to building a community that not only cares but one that acts, supports and one that makes an impact. And with your support, we are already doing this together. By reading this newsletter, sharing and being part of our community, you have become our backbone so that we too can support others.
Commitment to providing jobs
So far, we employ young people from across Africa who would otherwise struggle with unemployment, as well as creatives in the UK. They work on research and content for this newsletter, including our community and charitable workshops. For some, this experience not only provides financial independence but opportunity for further education through and incredible scholarships in some of the world’s best universities. Some of their fees/salaries are subsidised with your paid memberships.
Commitment to supporting those in need
A percentage of paid subscriptions is also donated to various charitable organisations. This September all paid subscriptions are being donated to Amal Women’s Center in Morocco, and organisations working in Libya, Sudan, Somalia & Nigeria.
And as one of our retreat destinations, Morocco is very dear to us, with lots of memories made there and much more to come. In the meantime, a lot of relief action is being taken and boots on the ground are working to support the affected. One of these organisations is Amal Women's Center - a cookery school and restaurant, and one of the highlights of our retreats in Morocco, where community and support is also shared as part of our principles.
Amal trains and supports women to become much more than their circumstances allow them to be. They are trained to become cooks, chefs, to be financially independent, with many going on to work in the best restaurants, hotels and riads across the country. Amal, have been distributing thousands of meals daily through World Central Kitchen to those in the mountainous region, and their centres have been collecting donations from clothes to toiletries and more. They have bought tents to provide temporary shelter, as it does get quite cold the higher up you go into the Atlas mountains, even snowing in some parts. They are also working to provide what the people need to be able to cook for themselves and look after their most pressing needs each day. There have been reports about governments from across the world sending aid, and many other organisations have been supporting via fundraising and on the ground. However, I can only speak as confidently about those I have watched closely and those we support, which is Amal.
You can see more about their work and follow their progress below with the earthquake relief, as well as supporting their own programmes for women.
While many of us are blessed with abundance of food, many others are starving within our communities and across the world. I know there is only so much one person can do. We will also be stronger and more impactful together. And so please remember that whatever you do, it will make a great impact to the lives of your fellow humans. Please see the links below to support Unicef who have boots on the ground in these countries. We have also made and will continue to make donations, and I will endeavour to keep you informed of our activities and the work of organisations we support.
Unicef in Libya
Unicef in Somalia
Unicef in Sudan
Travelling to Morocco
Tourism is the heartbeat of Morocco and its people. The bakeries and restaurants, the riads filled with locals who look after us, the museums, and markets in the Medina and beyond will be nowhere without visitors. If you are visiting soon, please do your research and plan your destinations with care. You can get in touch with Amal to find out what they might need. I know tents, warm clothing, toiletries, especially for female hygiene, are much needed. Speaking to our friends on the ground, the priority now is empowering those who have lost their homes and livelihood and rebuilding homes, hopefully more structurally sounds homes.
I pray for good health for you and your family, as we are fortunate to see another day. Below, you will find that I have tucked in a wonderful Moroccan recipe for semolina pancakes with the most bewitching orange blossom and honey syrup. I hope you enjoy a few of my favourite Moroccan musicians also left below, with songs to sooth and send chills down your spine.
Thank you for reading today. If this resonated with you please share with family or friends who will love to be part of our community.
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