Script: Taste of home

Script: Taste of home

One homesick Chinese expat found a way to curb her longing for favourite dishes
Content Creator
John Millen used to teach English and French in a secondary school in the UK. He believes telling others about a good book is a brilliant thing to do.

Voice 1: When people go to work or to study overseas, what do they miss the most from home? Their family? Their friends? Local culture? People do, of course, miss these things when they move to a new country, but the thing most  people miss more than anything else is …. the food.

Voice 2: Just ask the workers and their families who are part of the fast-growing Chinese community in the African country of Zambia about that. China has invested heavily  in the mining industry in minerals-rich Zambia. During the last few years hundreds of workers have moved there from China to be part of the mining industry and earn good money.

Voice 1: Zambia might be rich in copper and coal and silver, but one thing you can’t find there is Chinese food - or even the ingredients to make it. But thanks to people like Ma Ying, that is slowly changing. This woman is on a mission to bring Chinese food to Zambia. And the business she set up in 2013 is thriving.

Voice 2: When Ying and her engineer husband moved from the industrial city of Fushun in north-east China to Zambia in 2010, the move was difficult for many reasons. The couple left their two young children behind with an aunt, and they also left behind the delicious food of their home region.

Voice 1: Ying, a talented cook, had to work hard to adapt her home Chinese recipes to the produce she could buy in the markets of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital city. Friends in the Chinese community loved being invited round to her home for dinner, because the food was always delicious.

Voice 2: During one meal she remembers well, a friend suggested that she should open her own restaurant. Ying knew she could make it work, so she and her husband talked about the idea, and began looking around for suitable premises to rent.

Voice 1:  It took many months to get everything in place. Silver Moon, Ying’s Chinese restaurant, opened its doors in Lusaka in June 2013. It was an immediate success. There wasn’t much choice on the menu, but all the customers agreed that the food was first-class. Ying did all the cooking herself, but two friends helped to serve the customers. Silver Moon opened seven days a week, and at dinner time customers had to queue for a seat.

Voice 2: From the very first day the restaurant opened, Ying was approached by customers wanting to buy the ingredients she used in her dishes. Friends back in China sent her the spices and other small amounts of the ingredients she couldn’t get in the local markets.

Voice 1: There was such a big demand for authentic Chinese ingredients that Ying decided to open a supermarket selling Chinese products. With the help of family and friends back home, she began importing a range of goods, getting them shipped to the port of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, then moved on by road to Lusaka.

Voice 2: Today, the Silver Star supermarket is doing booming business. It averages three  hundred customers each day, and has an annual turnover of US$60,000. Ying says that she has become a centre for the local Chinese community. “People don’t just come to my restaurant for the food or to the supermarket to buy Chinese products. They come here to socialise and chat.”

Voice 1: Ying can be very proud of her achievements of the past few years. She has brought a taste of home to her community in Africa, as well as set up a booming business. She is a brilliant example of Chinese enterprise and work ethic. Ma Ying is a star!  

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