What’s cooking?

When I saw Ayen preparing food for the locals in a small tin shed “restaurant” in the back blocks of South Sudan, I was amazed at her passion and joy in what she was doing. 

I thought of myself at my own kitchen bench. Some of you might also have a great passion for cooking. Some would prefer take-away every night, but you may not realise that you are part of feeding the world, one family at a time.

Let me take you, (COVID-19 safe of course!) to an outback village in South Sudan where your support changes lives through cooking.

Here you may have the opportunity to eat at the busy little café run by Ayen, who can now support her six children aged from two to 15. But her life wasn’t always like this. She needed you.

“I went to school but had to leave when I was 14 years old. I was taken out to care for the cattle at the cattle camps. I didn’t have much food to eat and it is hard to be at school without food. If someone was sick you would just have to see them die.

Before I joined the Catering Group, run by LWF [Lutheran World Federation], my family often had no food. I would go and collect firewood to sell at the market to help get some food for the children. It was hard work. I would have to walk for hours. It was heavy and I was afraid of the bad men in the forest. It is hard to see your children starving.”

Then your support, which enabled her to attend the Catering Course, changed her life. Ayen learnt about hygiene, how to set up a small business and, best of all, how to cook a variety of dishes such as chapatti and fried meat.

“I really enjoyed learning all these things! I was so excited I wanted to start straight away. I went to collect a lot of firewood and then, with the money I saved, I bought a bag of sugar! I started making tea to sell, then I had some more money to buy other ingredients.

Now I have a ‘restaurant’ and have hired four women to help me!”

I am humbled when I think of women like Ayen who worked so hard simply to purchase a bag of sugar, to put her passion into action. You gave her a dream – and a practical way to achieve it. 

“I am so thankful for my knowledge and training. Now I can already buy food for my children and pay the school fees. If they get sick, I can buy some medicine. Thank you for upgrading my life!”

Cooking can not only feed but change lives.


It reminds me of the number of times Jesus fed people. He saw a need and responded. From feeding 5,000 men with five loaves of bread and two fish, to feeding his disciples a simple cooked “brekkie” after he had risen. Of course, he feeds us spiritually too – the nourishment that changes our lives and enables us to reach out and be his hands and heart in a hurting world.

I know first-hand how Lutheran women love to cook, but if one is going to cook, then one needs ingredients. For me it is as simple as going to the pantry or local supermarket, but for women like Regine in Burundi, it is far more challenging. She felt more like the widow in Zarephath – a widow destitute and starving.

“I had a very bad life. We did not have enough food. My husband died. Out of 15 births I only have five children alive. Some died when they were two or three years old and one when he was 12. I had to work for other people in their fields to survive.

Then LWF came to my village. They trained me in how to make a kitchen garden. I can grow vegetables – some to eat and some to sell at the market.

Now I have enough food to eat and can buy some things like a little bit of oil, soap, and salt.

LWF provided me with a bucket, hoe, and some seeds. They taught me to wash my hands and how to use the tools. In the first year they gave me the seeds, tools, and training. In the second year they taught me how to harvest and gather the seeds. Then in the third year I can help somebody else. Thank you to all the people who help us.”

Here you are at work through ALWS assisting so many people in poor countries like Burundi, South Sudan, and Nepal to grow vegetables or raise meat such as pigs, goats, cows and even rabbits! This is how your love, the love of Jesus within you, grows.

So, if you ask me what’s cooking? I’d reply that repeatedly I hear the words of Jesus resonate in my ears from Matthew 25: “I was hungry, and you fed me … whenever you did it for the least of these, you did it for me.” Thank you for all the ways you bring these words to life.

Julie Krause, ALWS Community Action Officer

*if you would like to hear more stories of the great things you do, call or email the Albury office, and we will come to you. alws@alws.org.au phone: 1300 763 407

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Australian Lutheran World Services

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