Women's Work is Never Done: Grinding nuts in Lui

May 15, 2015
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by Deb Goldfeder, Deacon at Ascension Episcopal Church, member of the Companion Diocese Committee, and missioner to Lui.

“You must feed the child! Feed your child! Give her ground nut paste with honey! Your child must eat!” Dr. Martin rarely minced words when ordering the mothers in South Sudan to feed the children who were malnourished as evidenced by their dust-colored hair, big bellies and pale skin. Peanuts (what they called ground nuts) were fairly common in Moru gardens and could be made into a paste called kyi’di--peanut butter! Sometimes women added sesame seeds to the peanuts. When mixed with epe--wild honey--it made a delicious high protein, high calorie food that could sustain children (and more than a few missioners) through tough times. But, getting peanut butter requires more than a walk to the market to buy some Skippy. Silky smooth peanut/sesame butter required a lot of work by Moru women. Once I watched it made, I appreciated it all the more.

The ground nuts must be shelled and then are lightly roasted in a round-bottom pan that is suspended over a fire by three rocks. This requires a woman to stir them frequently so all are roasted equally. In the late afternoon when the heat relents a bit, she pours all the roasted nuts to a large, partially hollowed-out log with the sesame seeds. This is a huge wooden mortar. She then takes a wooden pestle and begins to pound the nuts and seeds until she is satisfied with it. The pestle is also carved out of a log possibly four or five feet long with a wide end that fit into the log and a smaller diameter handle that she lifts above her head and then pounds over and over until the paste is made. It is very hard work and takes a lot of time.

Fortunately, the Companion Diocese Committee (CDC) has learned of small grinding mills for peanuts and sesame seeds that can be purchased at a very reasonable cost and, thanks to gifts given by people in the Diocese of Missouri, we will be purchasing several of these mills to assist the women of Lui Diocese in making kyi’di for their families in a fraction of the time and effort previously required. As opposed to other grinding mills such as those that grind grains into flour, these mills are hand-cranked and have few, if any, parts to break.

Thanks to all who continue to support this mission of our diocese.

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