Volunteer Name: Habiba Teja
Role: Senior Food Services and Nutrition Consultant
Host Institutions: AKU, AKA and UCA
Locations: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Pakistan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh
Duration of Assignment: Start date March 2009 and still ongoing
After leaving her home town 35 years prior, Vancouver’s Habiba Teja was excited to return to Mombasa, Kenya, where she volunteered as a Food Services and Nutrition Consultant with the Aga Khan Academies (AKA) to provide nutritious meal options for children studying there. As in her other ongoing role with the Aga Khan University (AKU), Karachi, Habiba began working on implementing best practices, leveraging local supply chains, melding global cuisines, and striving to be innovative in the sustainability of the service by introducing environmental initiatives.
Soon after arriving at the Academy in Mombasa, Habiba recognized the opportunity to replace bottled water with fresh madafu or coconut water. Coconut water provides electrolytes and additional minerals to the students’ diet and can be sourced from within the city, which also contributes to the local economy. Furthermore, coconuts are compostable so the switch was eco-friendly. This small change made a big impact.
In addition to continuing her work with AKU and AKA in several countries, Habiba is now also engaged with the University of Central Asia (UCA) in Kyrgyzstan where she has taken on the challenge of supporting another AKDN institution in achieving its potential in this area. Overall, Habiba says the experience of volunteering for ten years has been humbling, noting: “I feel truly blessed to have been given an opportunity to make such a meaningful difference.”
Her host institutions are immensely grateful to Habiba for her exemplary contribution as a TKN volunteer.