Yahya's Story of Hope - Banku Recipe #withOxfam

11 November 2016

Every day we hear stories of people suffering whether it be through war, famine or poverty and whilst we do not live in a third world country, we should still support and help people who are not as well off as us.  I am joining in with Oxfam's Stories of Hope and today I bring to you the story of Yahya.

Yahya grew up in Gambia with his family and spent a lot of his time tending to cattle.  His mother died, his father became violent and this was when he decided to leave.  Travelling through many countries and finally boarding a dinghy he made the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean sea. Yahya was only 16 years old when he was rescued from a boat off the coast of Italy by the Italian Coastguards.  He had left all his family behind in Gambia, had no money, was alone and feared for his future. 

This is when Yahya's luck changed.  With the help of Barbara Sidoti, a human rights activist who had set up a restaurant called 11Eleven (with the help of Oxfam and other partners), Yahya was given the opportunity along with other migrants to learn new skills and rebuild his life.  Below is the recipe for Banku which is a West African dish served with stews and soup.

1 white onion
500g plum tomatoes
750g cornflour
50g mozzarella
1tsp cumin
1tsp sugar
salt water

  1. Chop the onion and plum tomatoes. Put them in a bowl together with the cumin, paprika and sugar, then mix.
  2. Take the cornflour and add salt water as you mix. Continue until you have a smooth mix. The thickness of the mixture is up to you, but do not leave it as a dough or make it very watery.
  3. Place the banku mixture in an oven proof dish and bake for 20 minutes at 180°c.
  4. Allow to cool for a few minutes so that you can handle it.
  5. Mould the banku into balls and place on your plate.
  6. Cover with your tomato mixture, garnish with basil.
  7. Slice your mozzarella and add to your dish.
Every donation counts, no matter how small, to help Oxfam carry out providing the basic items that people need to live.  Did you know that £2.50 can provide 25 water treatment sachets which in turn will make 500 litres of water safe, this would last a family 1 month. Oxfam need your help and support to carry on responding to emergencies, work on long term projects and help to make lives better for those suffering. May be you can offer hope and change another person's life.  Visit Oxfam to find out the way you can help ensure that people don't live in poverty.

Photographs by Alessandro Rota.
This post is written in collaboration with Oxfam.


  1. Wow... you do really count your blessing when you read stories like this. SO GLAD he was able to find the help he needed to get back on his feet. It could have been very different, couldn't it?

  2. That recipe sounds gorgeous - and such a sobering story. We don't realise how very lucky we are sometimes. x

  3. Gosh what an inspirational story, and that recipe looks delicious!

  4. Talented young man. I'm so glad that we are able to offer opportunities to migrants, we just need to make more opportunities available.

  5. Wow what an inspirational story it's lovely that opportunities like this are giving, that recipe looks delicious xx

  6. What an inspirational story - glad that he was given such help x

  7. This is a great post and really inspiring, I'm really happy for him x

  8. Very inspiring indeed! It makes you truly grateful for what you have.
    The recipe looks amazing :) x

  9. Inspiring story. You really do count your blessing when you read something like this. Such a great charity, the recipe looks great :)

  10. Very inspiring and i love trying out recipes from different countries so will be saving this one to try :)

  11. My daughter did a placement in Gambia and it is such a beautiful but impoverished country. I am glad to hear that Yahya is doing well now

  12. Oh my goodness - so pleased he was supported

  13. Lovely to read that he was given support and is doing well. Oxfam do such wonderful work x

  14. Totally agree Oxfam are amazing! I'll be trying that recipe too, thank you! Amanda

  15. Wow - what an inspiration tale. The banku sounds scrummy! x

  16. What an inspirational story. The recipe sounds lovely I will need to try it.


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