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Learning a recipe for freedom in Nigeria — Global Issues

“When my family discovered I was pregnant, they told me to go to live with the father of my unborn child, but instead of going there, I started sleeping in an empty building, where I began hawking sachets of water to survive. 

When my family found out, they threatened my rapist and, because I was out of options, I went to live with him. He would beat me so badly that I was in and out of the hospital emergency room, and I almost lost my unborn son. 

One day, he poured a corrosive chemical on me, which burned my legs; he then ran away with my son. It took me two months to heal. At first, his father allowed me to live in his home, and then my mother, the only member of my family to support me, took me in. 

My abuser’s father also helped the police to find and arrest him, and thanks to him, my son was returned to me. It was during this time that I learned about the culinary arts course.  

UNDP Nigeria

Blessing Ojukwu and other women who have suffered at the hands of abusers have learnt new skills at the Livelihood Pathways Programme.

I had had a strong interest in cooking for a long time, even being paid to cook for people from time to time. However, I only really knew Nigerian dishes, and during the course, I learned how to cook a wide range of cuisines from across the globe, including cakes, pastries, hors d’oeuvres and desserts. 

In addition to the new recipes I have been taught, I also learned about food presentation and photography, and I can now take lovely photos of the meals I make for sale, which help me to advertise on WhatsApp, and to attract more customers. 

Since graduating, I have started to build up a client base and, with the little money I make, I can take care of myself and my son. I am looking forward to growing and, one day, I hope to open an international restaurant and pastry shop in Abuja. 

So, if any survivors of sexual assault and abuse are reading this, I would encourage them to speak out: that’s how you get help. If I hadn’t spoken up, I would never have received this great opportunity to learn new skills. Now I have a second chance.” 

Blessing Ojukwu (left) leant how to cook pastry and other foods at a UN-supported initiative.

UNDP Nigeria

Blessing Ojukwu (left) leant how to cook pastry and other foods at a UN-supported initiative.

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