Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘bakery’

Nothing But the Best

SecondBestSecond Best by Charmaine Pauls
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

The story is a beautiful work of art that alternates between the first person account of Molly von Aswegen as a teen, and her later life in Johannesburg, South Africa, as told in the third person. The tale takes place between 1981 and 1984 with 17-year-old Molly fighting for her life in an industrial school (similar to reform school), and the foster homes, jobs, and people she encounters once she gets out. The pacing, and timing, between her past, and present, are done seamlessly and to great effect.

Having most every horrible thing possible happen to her before she turns twenty-one, it is not surprising that Molly has little trust in others, and no self regard for herself. There are only two people that stay with her, and whom she trusts. Malcolm (Mal) meets her at school just before he goes off into the army and to fight in Angola. Neill Mckenzie, who owns the Opera Bakery, is the second person who sees something more in Molly than her life circumstances and reputation. Neill sees potential and a passion for baking. The story is reminiscent of the 2015 film Dough (without the comedic elements), which has an old Jewish baker struggling to keep his business alive in London, and the teenage Muslim boy he hires, who is “nothing but trouble”.

All of the character’s in Second Best are played well. Molly and Neill’s families are from different sides of town, and each member comes to life. Molly’s friend and foes at school, Berta, Mr. de Jonge, and Jessica, are like people you may know, or have known. The Opera Bakery’s obnoxious and self-centered patron, Judge William Brooks, who has power, prestige, and a sense of entitlement, can also be found in cities across the world. Realism, with dialogue, character, and action, run rampant throughout the story.

Second Best is a well crafted, insightful, and entertaining story, that takes you into the heart and soul of a young woman finding her way through a hellish childhood, and discovering if anything reminiscent of self-love, respect, and love, is remotely possible.

A Different Kind of Bread

Dear Gabriel,

I have a dear friend, named Cass, who is going on a three-week program in Aix- en- Provence, France this year to “become a pastry chef.” She is excitedly making all her final preparations. She can envision herself speaking rudimentary French, whipping up tasty croissants and learning from real experts. She sees a renewed Cass, one she’s dreamed of becoming for a long time, and I’m excited for her too.

On the other side of the world, Alma Lizeth Zarceño will be baking up a different kind of bread in El Salvador.

She too is a baker, but the self she envisions is a little different. Alma sees herself as a mother who can send her two children to school. Each batch of bread she bakes to sell in the community means another day of school fees she can pay; sending her two young ones off to school, dressed in their uniforms, learning, reading, and hoping for a better life.

Alma joined FINCA’s Grupo Comunal San Lorenzo Village Bank recently, though she had never dared borrow money before. Ever since, Alma has been using her FINCA loans to buy new molds and other equipment and ingredients. Her bakery has begun to attract more and more customers and she hopes to continue improving her business so she can steadily boost her earnings. Every day, as her children grow, they need more and more and the cost of managing the family’s needs keeps increasing, but Alma is confident that she can set them on their way to a brighter future.

Alma is very grateful that you had confidence in her abilities and that her companions in Grupo Comunal San Lorenzo have shown her so much trust and encouragement.

Whatever your own personal pursuit, your own vision of a future self, you can take inspiration from the courage, success and tenacity of Alma.

Please give $100 or more to the hopeful visions of a better life for women and families in the developing world. We’ll bet you a fresh, warm croissant that you will feel great about your decision.

Thank you for your support,

Soledad Gompf, FINCA
Vice President
New Business Development

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