This thought came to mind during a preliminary meeting, ahead of the start of a Nutrition course next week.

A colleague was discussing what the course would entail with a local leader and some local volunteers; who will become part of the core team delivering the course.

The point had just been made that one of the recipes that will be tried out (bubur ayam), could be cooked in a rice cooker. Or as commonly referred to here, magicom. – Based on one of the more commonly used brands, or potentially the 1st major brand to be sold here.

Typical Magicom

Within the communities that we work, there can be significant numbers of people who do not have a kitchen. This can be due to lack of space, but can also be because landlords have said tenants cannot cook (on a stove top) in their premises. In some materially deprived areas, the overcrowding, materials homes are built with/made of, and creative electrical wiring, can mean fires are a major and sometimes regular hazard. Fires -that when they happen- spread quickly. Influencing, I’m sure some landlords’ “no cooking” rule.

With this being the case, our team had to both:

  1. Think of healthier versions or alternatives to the current weekly diet
  2. Think of what can be made within the confines of some of the households of the participants.

So this mention of a rice cooker, prompted the local leader’s recollection of her days working in an office. She told us how she and her colleagues used to cook their lunch in the rice cooker. This being cheaper than buying from one of the Warung – even though food in a warung is generally really cheap. They’d pool their ingredients, rice, tofu, some vegetables etc. and cook it all in the rice cooker. Doing so in stages, and making use of the steamer tray it came with.

They used what they had at their disposal. From the demeanour of the local leader, and her animated remembrance, there was no sense of lack, or missing out.

When working towards change, be it: encouraging healthier diet, stepping out into a new career/ business, desiring some self-development or personal change within yourself, start with what you have.

We are generally so inclined to start by focusing on what we lack. Seeing and counting our limitations. The money and other resources we don’t have; and feel we need before we can start anything.

We could do with using a rice cooker approach. Thinking creatively about what we can do with what we have, and exploring the most effective ways in which we can use them.

In the future, we may indeed need more resources (material and otherwise), but in the now, we can use what we have to get us headed in the right direction. Or at the very least, get us to the baseline,