Report by Rob - Part 1

Hamjambo? Habari gani? After months of preparation I finally started my journey to Nyaigando on the 6th of December. Having spent the previous week in Kampala, enjoying the opportunity to see a little of Uganda, I met Sister Redempta, Irene and our driver Edmond close to the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Rubaga to begin our 7 hour drive south across the border, towards Bukoba. The contrast between the bustling, chaotic city of Kampala and the tranquil, beautiful countryside, which surrounds it, was quite startling. Before reaching the border crossing, where we had the pleasure of meeting a border official who immediately recognized us as friends of Max, we stopped at the small Ugandan village which lies directly on the equator. It seemed appropriate to take several photographs next to the sign, which marks this split between north and south. As we approached Bukoba and eventually made our way along the bumpy, dark-red road to Nyaigando, the landscapes around us became increasingly inspiring. It was a privilege to finally arrive at such a paradise.

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Immediately upon arrival at Nyaigando we were warmly received by Sister Gaudentia, Sister Monica and many others who kindly helped carry our luggage to our rooms. The visitors’ rooms here are quite fantastic and together they form a charming, green quadrangle which is set back slightly from the main road running through the village. A few metres below us, down a shallow slope is the river and further on up the rise lies the main compound of Nyaigando, the Sisters’ rooms, the chapel, many offices, the soap production centre, a sizeable shamba (orchard) for maize and banana and a small barn for some livestock. Our first few days have involved exploration of this whole area, which has also given us the opportunity for innumerable introductions. The friendly welcome of the Sisters and other residents here has been extraordinary. For each conversation we speak only in Swahili, which I have been studying for the last couple of months. It’s difficult at times, yet always enjoyable and quickly one learns that there are three words which are acceptable responses to any question, at any event or time of day, “Karibu… Asante… Nzuri”. In any moment of confusion, I blurt out some combination of these and it’s always well received.

The timing of our arrival was especially fortunate given that Monday 9th December was Tanzanian Independence Day and a great feast day of celebration. More than 2,000 visitors travelled to Nyaigando from as far away as Burundi and Arusha. The day began with a five hour-long Swahili mass, which also celebrated the anniversary of several Sisters’ lives in the Nyaigando community. Indeed, one Sister was celebrating 60 years since completion of her final vows. Following the mass we proceeded en masse, singing and dancing while following a group of musicians to some canopies, which had been erected towards the rear of the compound. For the rest of the afternoon we feasted on a Tanzanian buffet including the classic savoury ndizi (banana) dishes, which I have already become accustomed to, since they are served thrice daily. Accompanying this fine meal was a display of traditional dancing from two local schools and a troupe of travelling acrobatic dancers who put on an impressive display. At one point Irene, who dances with a hip-hop group regularly in Paris joined the traditional display, to the delight of all the Tanzanians. Such a feast day celebration also affords the opportunity to both residents and visitors to offer gifts to various members of the Nyaigando community, marking their various efforts and commitments over many years. Concluding the day was a second feast featuring many more ndizi dishes, served this time in the main hall. Again dancing was an essential component, although this time there was much broader participation, with many Sisters, Priests and visitors displaying some remarkable dancing abilities!

Tuesday was a lazy morning, with many, including myself recovering from the previous day’s party. By the afternoon Irene and I decided it was time to make the 13km journey down to Bukoba with Sister Redempta where we would also meet the third volunteer, Lily, who was arriving on coach from Kampala. Needing to change money from US $ to TZ Shilling we also had our first experience of the chaotic but terrifically entertaining Tanzanian banking industry!

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This is now my fifth day in Nyaigando. Despite the torrential, unrelenting rain which has been falling (rainy season should end mid-Dec) I am filled with great excitement about the adventures and experiences, which await me in the coming three and a half months.


Presenting Rob

Dear all,

As the latest volunteer joining Solidarity with Orphans for 4 months from early December it is with great pleasure and excitement that I can inform you of the two projects which I will be undertaking during my stay in Bukoba.
The recent purchase of a delivery truck for the soap production team has been a great step forward in the process of optimising the management of this activity and should now allow us to resolve some of the other challenges which we are currently facing. Following on from the latest great analysis published by the team I will be working on a series of prioritised tasks; attempting to stabilise our upstream supply chain through longer-term fixed contracting and secondly, liaising with customers, existing and potential, to assess whether our product line needs altering. In so doing we also hope to structure long-term sales contracts. We anticipate that with success this will allow us to simultaneously cut raw material costs per unit produced while increasing the number of units sold, thus increasing our profitability in this activity.
My second project will be offering teaching of business skills to the sisters in Bukoba. I hope to impart knowledge accrued through my graduate business degree and my experience working with both large corporations and NGOs. The focus will be on those areas where the benefit will be greatest, including marketing, supply chain management and finance training. We anticipate that positive effects will be visible across all business activities.
Clearly, these two projects will build on our core ambition to give the organisation a stronger commercial footing, which in turn will deliver the sustainability we seek.
On a personal note it is a privilege to have been welcomed so warmly into this community and I am looking forward immensely to working with such talented and impressive people over the next few months and hopefully beyond. It goes without saying that I welcome your comments and feedback on this note.
Kind regards,
Rob Smith

Benefizkonzert für Solidarität mit Waisen am 17. März 2013

Liebe Mitglieder und Freunde unseres Vereins, am 17. März 2013 findet um 20:00 Uhr in der Pfarrkirche St. Canisius unter der Leitung von unserem Vereinsmitglied Thomas Friese ein Passionskonzert von Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart statt. Mitglieder des Akademischen Sinfonieorchesters München sowie Thomas Friese an der Orgel spielen Streichquintette in c-moll und C-Dur sowie die Fantasie für Orgel f-moll.

Wir möchten Thomas an dieser Stelle herzlichst für sein unermüdliches und langjähriges Engagement für unseren Verein danken und Sie/Euch zu einem wunderschönen Konzertabend einladen.

Der Eintritt ist wie in jedem Jahr kostenlos. Es wird jedoch für Spenden für Solidariät mit Waisen gebeten.