Most of our readers will know Paul, our Head Chef at St Luke’s Green and National Food Services Manager for Greengate, but did you know that Paul does a lot of charity work in Mongolia? He has recently returned from his tenth trip to Mongolia where he volunteers at an orphanage, Lotus Children’s Centre, teaching young people how to cook.
Lotus Children’s Centre provides shelter, care and support to build happy and positive futures for abandoned and abused children in Mongolia. Paul discovered his passion for helping these children on his first trip to the orphanage back in 2011. He started out teaching children how to bake in a small room with no water and no kitchen, and since then has helped to raise enough money to build a bakery at the Centre in Gachuurt. The bakery has now been running for eight years, and has seen many children learn valuable skills, in both the kitchen and life. Paul says ‘my mission in Mongolia is to provide knowledge in baking and cooking skills, which leads to independence and better self-esteem. With knowledge we can break the poverty cycle.’
This year’s trip was very busy for Paul and his daughter, Emily who accompanied him. Together with a fabulous team of volunteers, they built a covered outdoor play area for the small children and delivered 200 reusable nappies for the babies that had been donated. There are currently 15 babies that live in the centre, so Paul and Emily spent a lot of time looking after them. They also delivered donated catering utensils, spices and baking ingredients, as well as a t-shirts and caps for the kids. Greengate was happy to donate some cool flat-brimmed caps which were an absolute hit with the teens!
Whilst there, Paul spent a lot of time with his protégé, Asha, a 16-year-old girl who has a real knack for working in the kitchen. ‘Asha can be a bit cheeky but she is going places, she knows her way around the kitchen and can produce large amounts of bread without a problem. I know Asha has a very bright future ahead of her, so I spent a lot of time mentoring and training her this trip,’ said Paul.
It wasn’t all fun and games though, and a lot of hard work was involved. This trip, Paul cleaned and repaired all the baking equipment, such as ovens, dough prover, mixers, walls and shelving, and also continued the bakery training for 12 other children. Paul said ‘The bakery’s biggest achievement this year was catering for a music festival called Playtime Mongolia. I had all of the older teenagers involved in the planning, production and service of vegetarian food to a large group of people. This was a three-day festival attended by 30,000 people so it was a fun challenge to have the kids preparing such large amounts of food, off-site and away from the comfort of the bakery. They smashed it out, and I was very proud of their incredible achievement.’
When asked what was next for Lotus Children’s Centre, Paul spoke of renovating the Glamour House (the home for the older teenage girls). ‘We need $6000 to repaint the home, replace the floor and curtains, add in a new bathroom, and update the furniture. Hopefully we can raise these funds soon as we’d like to get this done as soon as possible for the girls,’ said Paul.
Back home in Australia, Paul’s passion for good food and enriching the lives of those around him continues. At St Luke’s Green he is very popular with the residents of our Retirement Village and Aged Care Home. If you would like to taste some of Paul’s food for yourself, call us today on 07 3129 9075 to learn more about village life at St Luke’s Green, Woolloongabba.