Why Lawrence Kiverenge ditched chalk for pots and pans

Lawrence Kiverenge serving his customers at Shekina Food Hub in Kaimosi, Vihiga county on October 4, 2022. [Brian Kisanji, Standard]

Today marks Worlds' Teachers Day.

During celebrations, most people wonder where favourite teachers during their school days disappeared after attaining retirement age.

 Some went into farming and operating small shops in the village, while others decided to spend a quiet moment in their homes as they enjoy their remaining days on earth.

However, from the blackboard and the dusty chalks, a teacher who taught Kiswahili at Loreto Kiambu Girls High is now a chef cum waiter after hanging his teaching boots.

It is a tale of a male former teacher in Vihiga County who has for over ten years amazed many with his cooking skills that have made his food kiosk in Kaimosi Education Complex a busy area.

Lawrence Kiverenge, took his ambition higher as he ventured into his  long-found love of cooking by starting the food kiosk in 2009.

Mr Kiverenge is the proprietor of the small but busy food hub that serves thousands of students from many educational institutions around the complex.

"Every day when I wake up, I target to put a smile on everyone’s face through my cooking and food, " said Kiverenge.

Kaimosi Education Complex houses Kaimosi Friends University, Friends College Kaimosi, Kaimosi Girls and Boys High schools, a vocational training college, Kaimosi Theological college, Kaimosi Teachers Training College, two primary schools and Jumuia Friends Hospital.

All this offers enough clientele for Kiverenge and his delicacies like African leafy vegetables, beef, pork and ugali, chapati and beans or cowpeas, pilau, spiced tea and arrow roots among others.

"We offer several delicacies around here, they go well with our diverse customers. The traditional vegetables and pork are famous around here" said Kiverenge.

When he is not serving the customers, Kiverenge will be in the kitchen cooking food.

His reasonable and affordable pricing is the reason many flocks to his food kiosk to have a bite.

"I have many customers but most are students, hospital workers and even patients so I have to be compassionate with my pricing to cater for these groups, " said Kiverenge.

The journey of the 64-year-old father from the classroom to the kitchen has left many admiring his zeal.

In 2009, after an illustrious career in teaching spanning almost three decades, Kiverenge said goodbye to chalk life.

It was 13 years ago that he began his catering and food company known as K and G caterers.

He started the business by investing Sh200000 which was his dues from his retirement benefits.

"The money was from my retirement and I thought to invest in my passion to feed people and create employment," said Kiverenge.

The food kiosk has employed seven people.

The food kiosk premises are rented from the Kaimosi Friends Church.

Mr Kiverenge was born in Hamisi, Vihiga and grew a passion for food and catering while in high school. His message comes as World Teachers' Day 2022 is set to be celebrated on October 5.

This year's theme is “The transformation of education begins with teachers”.

It’s through the theme that Kiverenge sees the need for retired teachers who have ventured into a business like him need to be involved in discussions currently ongoing in the country regarding the education system.

He encourages the country to stick to the new Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC).

His argument is that even though he was a teacher his passion and understanding of catering were never actualized.

"I was never offered the opportunity to do what I had a talent in, though I loved teaching I was also passionate about cooking," said Kiverenge.

Mr Kiverenge urged those who will review the CBC to consider retaining it so as it can help the current society that has many unemployed graduates.

"I see my grandchildren knit and even cook at an early age and that makes me proud. This is due to the new curriculum, " said Kiverenge.

To his customers, Kiverenge commonly known as Mwalimu is a living testimony that you are never old to begin what your heart has always desired.

"His food has a touch of determination to give the best to his customers, that is why we keep coming back to this hotel," said James Orata, a customer at Shekina Food Hub.

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