We find Charles at his small confectionery shop located on a busy narrow road leading to a local University. He welcomes us with a big smile.
Charles was placed in an orphanage when he was just 7 years old, this is where he spent the next 17 years of his life. “I have grown up from the orphanage,” he shared with us, as we settled down. “When my friends would go back to their homes during the school holidays, I would go back to the orphanage, it is my home.”
Charles is one of the 35 young adults that have been transitioned into independent living from St Michael’s orphanage, one of the residential care facilities that Child’s i is repurposing into a community hub.
Seven months ago, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, Charles officially left the orphanage to start his new life independently.
Child’s i supported Charles with his transitioning journey from the orphanage into independent living, supporting him with rent and food packages to help him get through the pandemic.
He loves baking something he has turned into a business. “My passion for baking started when I was in high school, during the holidays I would volunteer at a restaurant near the orphanage. That’s where my passion for cooking was born.” At the university, Charles chose to study his passion; he did a course in Hotel Management and Institutional Catering. During the long holidays while at the University, Charles would go back to the orphanage but intern at a local hotel to learn how to bake. “Working at a hotel, perfected my art for baking.”
Charles has been using a charcoal oven to bake “I used all my savings to buy the oven. At the beginning, it was hard to regulate the heat,” he laughs “but now I have mastered it, I can tell when the heat is too much.” He showed us his former one-roomed house just a few meters away from his shop that he has turned into a bakery.
“I spend most of my time here baking and perfecting my recipes by watching YouTube videos,” he laughed. Because he uses a charcoal oven, he bakes just outside his door.
“I want to expand and have a wide variety of baked goods.” To expand his business Child’s i has recently supported Charles with an industrial oven. “Now I do not have to worry about burning my cakes,” he laughed heartily. “I will scale up my business. The baking equipment is expensive, I hope to save and buy more equipment.”
“My past is my inspiration,’ he shared with us as we were leaving “I want to make my future bright.” Charles’s hope is to be connected to big bakeries so he can learn more and get advice on how to run a business.