Sunday, May 17, 2009

Making Progress, Slowly by Slowly

Sorry for another break in the posting. We are in the process of moving into our new house, so we've been out in the 'burbs supervising the various repairs. But it's starting to come together. We had a nice home-cooked meal of rice and beans last night, complete with the obligatory avocado. Tonight, it's pasta. Luke is giddy like a schoolgirl at just the thought of some good ol' white folk eatin'.


The past week has actually been amazingly productive. We met with a local SACCO, a type of informal-ish credit institution. Basically, there are a bunch of members who pay in some small sum, then take turns borrowing a larger portion of the group funds. The one that we have partnered with focuses on vulnerable women and children, and is actually based out in our neighborhood. It's looking much more promising than trying to work with the larger microfinance institutions, if only because there is much less bureaucratic nonsense to work through. Plus, we may have more to offer the members, who seem relatively less educated, affluent, etc. than microfinance borrowers.

But yeah. This past week we have spent a lot of time with the chairwomen, who makes various packaged food items. We learned how to prepare malewa (bamboo), to roast and grind g-nuts (like peanuts), to wash and prepare simsim (sesame seeds). We also got a chance to meet some of the members as we try to fill out our house. We met the nice lady that sells bed-sheets already, and we're still waiting to meet the lady that sells the Obama calendars and tapestries, but based on the other shops in town, I have no doubt that she's there.

(Anybody got a Rocket Stove?)

We are also starting to notice some sweet Ugandan idioms popping up in our everyday speech. Some are fun and logical (like the title), whereas others are just confusing. For example, sometimes "where are you from?" actually means "where have you been?" I guess that is also fun and logical. Whatevs.

At this point, the name of the game is to buckle down and get to work. The first bunch of students are coming in about six weeks, and we are determined to have some fun and rewarding activities for them to do, other than sit in the backyard and get a sunburn. After meeting with this SACCO, that's starting to look like a real possibility. We are supposed to go on a tour of microfinance projects in southern Uganda with some colleagues from the big city in the first week of June, so we're hustling to get enough done to be able to go on as much of the tour as possible.

Other than that, it's just more of the same- casual good times and unexpected terrors. Luke is in the process of crafting a post describing some of our recent adventures, but we thought it would be good to throw in an organizational development post in as well, since we actually have something to report (for the first time).

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