HUMANITARIAN: Ainsley and Miriam Shepherd with some of the items they have bought for African children with proceeds from the student's cooking.
HUMANITARIAN: Ainsley and Miriam Shepherd with some of the items they have bought for African children with proceeds from the student's cooking. Alex Treacy

Miriam is cooking up good things for Africa

MOST 15-year-olds are preoccupied with beings kids: school work, sports, lazy weekend afternoons with friends.

Not Gayndah's Miriam Shepherd, who has far larger things on her mind.

Specifically, the crippling poverty which grips countries like Uganda and Kenya.

"Uganda has been in my heart for a while,” Ms Shepherd said.

"I don't really know what sparked it.

"I just fell in love with the kids, I've seen pictures of them and it broke my heart.

"I couldn't stand the fact that there's so much poverty, no food, no water.”

So she decided to do something about it.

Last year, she started her own business, Miriam's Kitchen, which raises funds to buy books and clothing for Kenyan and Ugandan children.

Via her Facebook page and website, miriamskitchen4625.com.au, Ms Shepherd takes orders of cakes, biscuits, slices and savoury items throughout the month, before cooking up a storm in the Gayndah RSL Sub Branch Hall at the end of the month.

She said each monthly bake raises around $300 to help purchase items.

Mum Ainsley helps out as the "resident dishwasher”.

Her kitchen isn't the only way she is helping the less fortunate in Africa.

Ms Shepherd has started sewing reusable sanitary pads, searching designs and teaching herself via online demonstrations.

She said she has heard horrible stories of adolescent African women being too "embarrassed and vulnerable” to go to school during their period and was inspired to act.

She has made around 60-70 so far and has gotten a good response since putting a call-out on Facebook seeking donated materials or people willing to help sew.

Ms Shephard and mum Ainsley are hoping to next year travel to Kenya and Uganda, where they can see first-hand the poverty afflicting these countries and distribute the items they have been buying.

"We'll distribute things as needed and look for opportunities to connect with more people and support them,” Ainsley said.

Ms Shepherd is so busy cooking, sewing and planning her Africa trip that she is being home-schooled this year.

"She's learning entrepreneurship, marketing, and hands-on coordination of an international trip,” Ainsley said.

"She's got dreams in her heart of business and social justice.

"At school she could learn theories of business, here she is actually applying them.

South Burnett


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