News - November 15, 2012

Change the world with a knife and fork

The big bosses have vacated the former admin building on the Costerweg, but that doesn't mean there is nothing happening on the Duivendaal compound.

Happietaria 2012: "I've been working on it for more than a year."
Next week a handful of students will be running a Happietaria there. Have a nice meal and help change the world at the same time - that is the idea behind the nationwide Happietaria initiative. The temporary restaurant in Wageningen, set up by the Christian students' association, will be running for about three weeks on goodwill and volunteers from all over Wageningen. The proceeds go almost entirely to charity. This is the fourth Happietaria in Wageningen.
Preparing for a year
'It is nice to work on something concrete', says Stefan van Dam, chair of the Happietaria crew. 'You are not just working for a good cause, but also learning what it entails to set up and run a whole restaurant.' To keep the costs down and not to ask too much of the volunteers, a Happietaria never runs for more than about three weeks. 'But I can imagine that after two weeks I will think: "A real pity it will soon be over."
The students have been busy preparing for the event for months. Board member Susan Klinkert sums up the work involved: 'Finding a building, setting things up, looking for sponsors, organizing permits, putting together a menu, putting PR material together... I have been working on it for more than a year. It takes a lot of work but it is lovely to see how enthusiastic everyone is when we ask for help. For example, we have several cooks helping us in the kitchen and an interior stylist has given us some tips on how to furnish the building.' That is no luxury, as the old admin building has the ambience of a hospital and, since it is totally empty, it feels pretty chilly and inhospitable.
The Happietaria people are very happy with their temporary home, however. 'The university is paying for the overheads such as water and electricity. That's great because of course we want to keep the costs as low as possible,' says Susan. Stefan: 'It is a fabulous building with a big kitchen and loads of space. And it is quite handy that people know the venue. The only disadvantage is that we are off the beaten track. In 2010 Happietaria was at the market square, and then we got a lot of guests who just happened to be passing by. We won't get that now.'
The Wageningen Happietaria is in aid of a project in Nepal. 'That is why there are Nepalese dishes on the menu too. Dal, spring rolls, chapattis. And rice of course.'  The students put the menu together themselves, with the help of a professional cook. Hopefully it will be appealing enough to fill the restaurant with generous diners for three weeks. 'Our target is 15,000 euros.'
Where will the money go?
Nepal is very vulnerable to earthquakes and floods. In the last 10 years there has been a big increase in such extreme weather conditions, which has a big impact on the population. The proceeds from Happietaria will be channeled to United Mission to Nepal via development organization Tear. The money will be used for training programmes to help the Nepalese to prepare for possible natural disasters, as well as to distribute locally produced energy-efficient stoves. These stoves use less wood so fewer trees are felled for them, they cook food faster and they do not give off much smoke, and are therefore healthier.
For more information about Happietaria and to book a table: