In her own words Stephen Bowers describes how Mittin was created:
We had been in Ethiopia for 3 months when on a warm Friday afternoon, after another intense day in one of the three orphanages that I volunteered to manage I decided to walk home. I was overcome with emotion because of the large amount of children and families who would come on a daily bases to the orphanage gate, seeking food. The poverty is so raw and real that one family after the next would come to the gate holding out their bony hands pleading for food while pushing their empty faced limp children forward to be saved. This was what I had been experiencing day after day since our arrival, but on this particular day my heart had had enough…I needed to find an answer.
I could not walk fast enough to escape the sadness of the day, I finally stopped and cried out to God: “where is the solution to save these starving children? YOU have created every nation with everything needed for simple survival, but I do not see it here in Ethiopia – it was as if it had been taken from this nation…where is the cure I cried?” Suddenly I heard a voice clearly answer me….”it is under your feet”!
So, I responded to this new found crisis by going to the orphanage staff. I had noticed birthing mothers drinking a home made drink shortly after delivering. I asked the staff what is this brown, thick tea that the birthing mothers drink in the hospital – they explained to me that it is called: “mittin or muke” given to help recover quicker after birth. They explained that it was an individual homemade recipe some as simple as just 2-4 ingredients from the ground and it is not sold anywhere.
I asked the cook and nurse to start taking me to the market place to teach me what grows in Ethiopian soil even during a drought. I bought small amounts of the wide variety of grains, took it home, researched the nutritional value, purpose and various components of all the grains. Then, with the cook’s help, we started building a recipe. Over a period of 6 months, we created the 12+ key ingredients to the recipe and had it tested by a US dietician. The results proved that this new Mitten was highly nutritious and could be safely served to 4 month old babies up to 104 year old adults. I immediately started giving it to the starving children at the orphanages. I witnessed many malnourished and dehydrated children recover quickly and start to survive. The children were thriving so much that even the local government officials that came to check on the orphanages noticed a huge difference compared to other homes. Starving children that were surviving, growing, and thriving was not the norm so word of this new miracle drink traveled fast.
I decided to start selling Mitten in order to help teach the staff how to run a small business. The goal was teach them how to help their own people and for the small income to help care for the children at the orphanage. Hospitals, other orphanages, and even families within the community started to purchase. My home had soon proven to be too small to handle the 12 day process to produce such large quantities of this product. Thus, the vision for the Food Production Facility on Wolaitta Village was started.