My Christmas period at Nyaigando has been a mixture of highs and lows. Christmas Day itself was very special. By some great coincidence, Vivian, a Tanzanian friend of mine from university in London has family living here in Bukoba. After meeting up with her uncle Appollo before Christmas, I was invited to attend the family Christmas celebrations. I attended Appollo’s church at Kiteba, close to Bukoba in the morning and afterwards, along with all of Appollo’s neighbours, family and friends we ate the most magnificent feast; goat, chicken, pork and beef. Of course, I was truly grateful for such a meal but also for the incredible welcome which I received, something which is common here in Tanzania but which never loses its charm.The immediate days following Christmas Day were not so dissimilar to a typical European Christmas, as I slowly recovered from the vast quantity of food which I had consumed. Unfortunately the aforementioned low-point came a few days before New Year, when I developed the symptoms of malaria. Although this was very unpleasant, I was well looked after by Lily and Irene and of course by the Sisters too. For this, I am very thankful. Irene, Lily and Sister Gaudentia prepared countless teas and sugary syrups and I was just getting used to this fantastic waitress service when I recovered! Anxious to catch up on lost time and to make sure the 2014 budget was complete before the Munich team’s strategy conference on 4th and 5th January, I spent last week in meetings with the Sisters, going through the budget, discussing the goals for each distinct activity and from this, making revenue and expenses projections for the forthcoming year. While an essential piece of work for the organization as a whole, this also represented a great discussion platform for my own projects. It was an opportunity to introduce a new conceptual and strategic way of thinking about budget planning to the sisters and it was also a great context in which to discuss the soap business and any other possible expansion plans. Since the completion of the budget my attention has been turned towards progressing with each of my individual projects, in particular the analysis of the soap production facility. This week I have meetings with Sr Adella and Sr Redempta which will allow me to collect the necessary information and I am looking forward to discussing these findings with the rest of the team both in Munich and here in Nyaigando. Aside from work, the last few days have been notable for other reasons too; we were fortunate enough to receive invitations to visit Raymond, who works with the carpentry students and Edmond who is a friend of Sister Redempta and our driver on that original journey from Kampala down to Bukoba back in the beginning of December. Raymond took us to his home via a quick tour of his village, Igombe. It was fascinating to see his collection of photographs which showed the St Maria Gorethe organization across the previous 10 years. Before returning home, Raymond posed us with a welcome problem, by giving us a live chicken as a gift. Such generosity, but we didn’t know how to prepare it for the kitchen. Fortunately the wonderful Sister Monica was willing to give us all a quick lesson in chicken killing and the image of her holding a bloodied knife, while standing over our murdered chicken, is one that will last long in my memory! We look forward to making a return visit to Raymond and offering our own gift, carefully selected to offer him a new challenge too.
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This weekend I will take a short trip out to Kigali which will be fascinating I’m sure and on the way home, I plan to visit another organization in Masaka, Uganda which is undertaking similar work to that of St Maria Gorethe.