Report by Rob - Part 4

It has been some time since my last blog entry and much has happened in the meantime.Early in January I took the opportunity to travel with Irene and Lily to Kigali in Rwanda for a few days where we enjoyed the opportunity to eat some Italian and French food, quite a welcome change from our diet in Bukoba. Kigali itself is a fascinating city to visit. Of course, as a visitor, it is important to learn about the tragic history of this tiny country by visiting the memorials in and around the city. This was a valuable and unforgettable experience. Travelling onwards by myself for a few additional days, I reached Kisenyi at Lake Kivu, on the border with the DRC, Kibuye and finally Butare, Rwanda's "intellectual capital", the home of the National University and the excellent National Museum. I was astounded by the beauty of the countryside, particularly around Kisenyi and Kibuye, where steep mountains plunge down into the lake and some short hiking trips can reward one with the most spectacular landscapes. Travelling in Rwanda was a challenge. The stories are almost as long as the journeys themselves, but in brief; a 7 hour journey in a local minibus crammed full of 25 people plus luggage made even more uncomfortable by the endless potholes and rocks in the road and interrupted only when we had to hide ten of our passengers from the Rwandan police in the forest (bus is licences to carry 15 only) and then smuggle them back into the bus once we were beyond the police check. There was also an incident with a sliding door falling off a bus and another 10 hour coach journey where the driver played one 4-minute song on repeat for 4 and a half hours. Truly, travelling is so much of the total experience here. Despite the beauty of the countryside, after a long and arduous journey of 20 hours back to Bukoba I was delighted to return to familiar surroundings and see friendly faces.

In the last two weeks I have been busy working on my two projects, with a great deal of time spent with Sr. Adela, analysing the soap production. I have been able to recover a great deal of essential information regarding ingredients, quantities, costs, supplier locations and competitors which I have been able to share with the team in Munich via Podio. As we attempt to bring this business to profitability, this research has enabled us to focus on the distinct source of losses, notably the hard soap as being separate to the profitable liquid soap production. I'll be working with the Sisters closely to discuss the next steps. Aside from the soap production, I've been trying to find alternative profitable business activities and I have an idea which I believe has some promise, but I'll reveal that in my next blog entry as I'm going to discuss the idea with the Sisters tomorrow.

Through our contacts in Bukoba, the three of us have become members of the Bukoba Rotaract Club (Junior Rotary Club) and this weekend we made a visit to an orphanage in central Bukoba which is facing some serious challenges and so this has become a side project of ours. This week we will make another visit to assess what approach it will be best for Rotaract to take.

Otherwise, another friend, Afzal, has taken us hiking in the countryside around Bukoba and on Sunday he took us to the beautiful waterfalls, about 7km out of town.

On Friday night I'll be taking the overnight boat to Mwanza, returning on the Sunday night crossing. I'll be travelling with the Bukoba Cricket Club to play in a regional tournament over the weekend. I never anticipated that I'd be playing cricket here in Tanzania, but then again, Africa is nothing if not full of surprises.