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Friday, March 14, 2014

Pie Day 2014

Photo: Allrecipes.com
To celebrate Pi Day we invite you to try out Alaffia's West African Savory Pie. Let us know what you think!











West African Savory Pies
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Makes 10 Small Pies

Ingredients
·         1 1/8 cups self-rising flour
·         ½ tsp baking powder
·         Pinch of sea salt
·         ½ cup butter, softened
·         1 egg, beaten
·         1 egg, separated
·         4 tbsp water
·         1 large onion
·         1 red bell pepper diced
·         1 – 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped fine (omit seeds if you want less heat)
·         2 cloves garlic, minced
·         1 tbsp ginger
·         1 tsp cumin
·         1 tbsp red palm oil
·         ½ lbs. ground beef or tempeh
·         ½ tsp black pepper
·         2 medium potatoes
·         ½ cup chopped kale

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Dough:
1.       Add flour, baking powder, salt to a bowl then rub in the butter until a crumbly mixture is achieved.
2.       Beat the egg and add half to the flour and butter mixture with a wooden spoon. Add water one tablespoon at a time until the dough can be rolled into a ball.
3.       Lightly flour workspace and roll out the dough until it is just thicker than a nickel. Cut into 7” – 8” circles.
Filling:
1.       Dice onions and jalapenos, sauté in red palm oil until onions start to brown.
2.       Add ground beef and mash in pan with the back of a wooden spoon. Add ginger, cumin, black pepper, and garlic. Cook meat or tempeh until just starting to brown.
3.       Add diced red pepper and chopped kale, cook with meat or tempeh for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
4.       Boil water in a medium sized pot.
5.       Dice potatoes and add them to boiling water for about 5 minutes, or until soft.
6.       Drain potatoes and add to meat or tempeh.
Pies:
1.       Place about 2 tbsp. of the meat or tempeh in the center of the circle.
2.       Fold dough in half. Moisten edges of dough circle and pinch sides together with a fork.
3.       Light brush tops of pies with egg whites. Place on baking parchment and place in over for 25 minutes, or until slightly brown.
4.       Serve hot.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Olowo-n'djo's Update: Women's History Month

Dear Friends of Alaffia,
Good early spring to you; it is my sincere wish that this note finds you well.  In March, we celebrate Women’s History Month.  Since Alaffia’s existence and creation are based on celebrating womanhood and advancing the rights for women in my home country, I decided to share with you my thoughts on how we can together continue to fight for equal rights for women around the world.  While you are aware of the meaning of Alaffia, the second name for our cooperative in Togo is Agbanga Karité. Agbanga is the name of the diety of the village of Koussountou, which is 15 kilometers from my home town of Kaboli.  The Agbanga diety is known in central Togo as the woman’s diety, existing for the happiness and protection of women. This diety is also known to grant women their greatest wish. My mother was named after Agbanga, and because of this we named our cooperative after her, as the cooperative was started to honor our mothers by granting their greatest wish – cultural respect for their knowledge and a place where they can work and gain fair income, ultimately enabling them to raise their children and above all, gain a sense of empowerment and value as human beings.  From this, I am more than ever convinced the way to continue to foster full rights for women in central Togo is by continuing to provide them with a place they can work and use their traditional knowledge.
Furthermore, as we go through the Alaffia journey of reducing gender inequality, I often ask myself what future young African women have in this world.  This leads to Ibada Tchala and Abidé Awesso visiting the US for the first time from our community projects and cooperatives in Togo.  It is hard to express in words the presence and image that Ibada and Abidé embody. They are two young ladies who have full knowledge of the Western world and have received Western educations, yet have decided to dedicate their lives to the health and wellbeing of other African women by managing and coordinating the Alaffia maternal health program. They do this with the determination that all women in Togo deserve to enjoy the rights and freedoms that they themselves enjoy.
Abidé joined Alaffia three years ago, and her main focus is on female circumcision, or excision.  While Alaffia’s maternal health project began in 2006, it was not until three years ago that we started focusing on excision.  In 2010, during a visit to Togo, Ibada told me that during her training as a midwife, when she was stationed in Kabou, she encountered many women who had undergone excision. She told me how these women suffer, and how many bleed to death during childbirth. She then told me that if I truly believed in women’s rights, then Alaffia must fund a program for prenatal and delivery care for excised women.  The following year, I visited the community Health Director of Kabou with Rose to gain authorization for Alaffia to provide prenatal care for these women, and this was when Abidé joined Alaffia to open a satellite office near Kabou to begin this project.
While all of us were aware of the health problems these women face because of what was done to them, none of us were prepared for the intensity and gravity, including Abidé.  In her own words she explained, “When I first started, and I started examining these women, I couldn’t sleep at night. I had nightmares from seeing the suffering these women have to endure. For the first six months, I didn’t think I could continue and I wanted to resign.” Excision is the removal, all or in part, of external genitalia through traditional “surgery” performed with razor blades or shards of glass.  It is part of the culture of some ethnic group to perform this on girls once they reach puberty. Since it is an illegal practice, it is done secretly, usually in the fields or brush without any anesthesia or sanitary conditions. In addition to the intense pain and trauma these girls endure, they are also plagued with infections and scaring for life. Thankfully, Abidé found the strength to continue despite the horrors that she witnesses, and she has ensured the safe birth of 610 babies and will continue to work to save these mothers and their children.
It is a fundamental human right to choose what is done to your physical body, and these women, while it is a cultural practice, were excised against their will. Since they do not have the power to halt this practice, we must do so at once.  With your continued support during this year, we will triple our funding of this initiative, and not only provide care during pregnancy, but also treat infections for excised women who are not pregnant, and greatly increase our awareness trainings in our communities.
But we must not forget that as humans, we have come a long way in achieving equal rights for women, but there is a still a long way yet to go, as these rights are mostly reserved for the affluent. As a human family, we must walk together to bring morals and dignity to all women, and we cannot achieve this until all people enjoy the same rights.
I humbly thank you for continuing to support Alaffia. Together, we can take another step towards an equal world.
Peacefully Yours,

Olowo-n’djo Tchala

Friday, February 14, 2014

Olowo-n'djo's Update - African American History Month

Dear Friends of Alaffia,
With this brief note in the celebration of African American History Month, I would like to first thank you for all you have done in supporting Alaffia in the empowerment of our communities during the past ten years. Many generations before us have fought and died for the rights that all of us of African origin enjoy today. And in honoring their sacrifices, one must, regardless of skin color or origin, continue the fight for better rights for the generations yet to come.
From the 1800s through the 1960s, the civil rights movement in the USA and fight for desegregation in the South directly contributed to decolonization of our African nations in the 1960s. While the physical presence of European rule is no longer in place in our countries, the continent continues to be plagued by human and economic injustices for the masses.  These injustices are due to a combination of self-infliction on our own people and global economic systems with the sole desire of producing economic gain for the wealthiest. 
As with all my visits to Togo, last month I returned to the USA with great sadness in my heart since the human condition seems to worsen every year in my country despite the efforts of Alaffia.  I see my country being recolonized by foraging emerging economies; our major industries are controlled by them, our precious resources, minerals and lumber taken away, and our peoples cultural history and basic rights are not being respected. I see cargo ships lined up as far as the eye can see at the Togo port. Yet, the streets of Lomé are filled with girls 11 years old or less, selling bean cakes in the hot sun, and more and more families are digging through garbage heaps for recyclables to pay for a day’s worth of food.  I visited a cloth-dying neighborhood of Lomé, next to which is a large dumping area for electronics, where young men break down computer monitors and other electronics in search of valuable metals and parts. Copper sells for $2 per pound, but it takes four days of smashing toxic components without respiratory protection to get this much.
In summary, economic injustice continues in my home country and across the globe, prohibiting the attainment of all other human rights. To fight this injustice, I put out a calling to my own people, to the powerful in the West, and to the emerging economies to compensate the poor fairly for their resources and labor.  For your part, I urge you to support fair trade initiatives and, most importantly, activities that do not destroy indigenous cultures. I am optimistic that by continuing this work together, we can bring full economic rights for all our communities and our future generations, and in the process preserve cultural diversity and indigenous knowledge.

Peacefully Yours,

Olowo-n'djo Tchala