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Last year’s GBBO quarter-finalist Benjamina inspired by baking club children in Ghana

Earlier this year, 24-year-old Benjamina Ebuehi travelled to Ghana to meet children being empowered through child development charity, Compassion UK. Working in partnership with local churches in 25 developing countries around the world, Compassion equips children with the skills they need to break free from the cycle of poverty for themselves, including vocational training and mentoring.

Last year, at 23 years old, teaching assistant Benjamina made it to the quarter finals of the baking show, along with fellow bakers Candice Brown, Andrew Smyth, Jane Beedle and Selasi Gbormittah. Since competing on the Bake Off Benjamina has been pursuing a number of projects involving food styling and blogging at www.carrotandcrumb.com and hosting baking masterclasses at Luminary Bakery - a social enterprise aiming to break aiming to break the generational cycles of abuse, prostitution, criminal activity and poverty.

Benjamina with children

Benjamina started baking at 14 years old and specialises in creating simple, stylish bakes with a contemporary, fresh twist. During her trip to Ghana with Compassion UK Benjamina was welcomed into a children’s baking club at a Compassion Project in Assin Bereku, Ghana, hosted at a local church in the area. The club consists of children from the Compassion project ranging from 10 to 13 years old. This merry band of bakers are responsible for baking all the bread the Compassion centre needs for project days on Saturdays; the day when 230 children from the the local area attend the centre to learn, play, eat and have fun.

Every Friday, the 20 strong baking club, led by 14-year-old Elizabeth—walk to the mill 20 minutes away and wait for the flour to be processed. The mill, which is also used by other people in the wider community, operates using increasingly ageing machinery, so the children often have to wait for their flour to be ready. Once back at the project the children set to work with precision and concentration as they determine the perfect ratio of ingredients to make enough dough. They leave the dough to proof overnight, then meet at 6am to bake the rolls for a 9am breakfast.

“There wasn’t a single adult instructing them saying “Do this. Don’t do that. Stop messing around.” They just started with their aprons on, hats on and organised themselves,” shares Benjamina. “One group was preparing the flour while another group did something else. The independence the children had was amazing. You could see they all took so much pride in their work.”

The local area surrounding the project in Assin Bereku has an unemployment rate of 30%. When people are employed the average monthly income is £10.50 a month, whilst primary school fees can reach around £50 a month.

“Baking is a great way to express yourself. It feels to me sometimes that children now aren’t allowed to express their individuality. If a child is encouraged to pursue the skills that they enjoy, they will grow in confidence in themselves. When young people are given the responsibility for something that they can share with others around them, they are really proud of it, and they should be.”

Bismarck a 13-year-old boy in the final year of Primary school and part of the baking club shares, “Someday even when I am employed, I shall still bake bread for an extra income. I will teach my wife and children in the future, and we will join hands and do it as another business for the family.”

Compassion UK will be launching a downloadable e-book in honour of World Food Day in October 2017. The book will feature three recipes inspired by Benjamina’s trip to Ghana, along with recipes and stories from other field countries around the world.

For more information and photographs contact Ella Dickinson ellaD@compassionuk.org


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