Archive | June 2013

Wrapping Up – Thursday June 19, 2013

Today was the last day in Kampala for most of the team, so we wanted to make sure that we visited with Pilgrim headquarters to update them on the status of the project. Although Hellen, the in-country director, was away in Rwanda, we were able to meet with several other members of Pilgrim who are members of the board or the executive leadership.

During our meeting, we discussed what went right, what went wrong, and most importantly, what needed to be improved. During our discussions, we got a real sense that Pilgrim truly wanted to work with us to continue improving both the rainwater harvesting system and the MFP program. It was very encouraging to know that we had such strong support from the leadership of Pilgrim to help strengthen our projects. We are looking forward to continuing to speak with them and preparing for the second implementation trip in August.

This meeting was the last piece of work on our agenda, and we all knew that our time in Uganda was quickly coming to a close. Sooner than we realized, we were waving goodbye to Marcellin as he boarded his bus to head back home to Rwanda. Saying goodbye to Uganda would be, like most partings, bittersweet: we would miss the country that we had grown fond of over the past month, but we were also excited to head home and see our friends and families. But all of us were glad that we had come and had the opportunity to learn and grow from the experience.

For the last time:

Kianyun ejaulo,

Robert, Aniekeme, and Eli

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An Unsatisfactory Ending – Monday June 17, 2013

We were hoping to travel to Aboiboi today to complete the same installation and testing that went so successfully in Angole on Friday. Unfortunately, we got a call early this morning that the contractor and supplier Paul was very ill and would not be able to bring the parts that we needed in order to complete the installation. 

Because today is our last day in Soroti, we will be unable to test the MFP in Aboiboi, but we are hopeful that we have set them on the path to be able to finish the implementation. We are quite disappointed that there were so many unexpected delays in our trip that caused this result, but we are at least assured that we did everything we were able to to maintain our schedule and are pleased with the work that we were able to complete.

We head back to Kampala tomorrow where we will meet with the main office of Pilgrim to update them on the project. We’re both excited to be on our way home as well as sad to say goodbye to Soroti, our home for the past several weeks.

Kianyun ejaulo

Robert, Eli, Aniekeme, and Marcellin

Installing Angole – Friday June 14, 2013

Today was the big day! We heard that our parts were in and we were heading to Angole to test the engine and attachments. 

Unfortunately, the day got off to a rocky start. Our team was ready to meet with Pilgrim at our scheduled 8:30, but we got a call saying that they were having some delays and would be there shortly. After waiting in the lobby, our ride arrived at 10:30 and we were off to Angole. But, when we got there, we realized the second car carrying the rest of the parts wasn’t behind us. After waiting another hour and a half, all of the pieces were in Angole and we were ready to begin working. 

The entire team was excited to get to work so that we could see the MFP running. Our first step was to remove the metal frame from the still-drying concrete so that it could be mounted to a temporary wooden frame. With this completed, we got to work installing the engine and attachments on to the metal frame.

And here we ran into our first problem. The custom mounts for the ChangFa engine hadn’t been fully drilled, so there was no way to secure the engine to the base. But, the problem was easily remedied by a trip back to Soroti to have the correct holes drilled. During the one and a half hour trip back to Soroti, the team stayed behind to work on assembling what we could of the attachments.

While doing this, we ran into yet another issue. Some of the wrong parts had been brought for the attachments and the correct parts were still in Soroti. So, again we stayed behind in Angole and did what we could as we waited for the parts to come back.

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Finally, with all parts and pieces with us in Angole, we were able to complete the assembly on the timber base. Everyone, including our team, Pilgrim, and the community, cheered when we heard the engine come to life and the attachments begin to run. It was even better when people began to line up along the housing structure, ready to begin using the MFP to mill their cassava.

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Although we didn’t get to see the MFP mounted on it’s final concrete base, we were glad to see it working and are optimistic for the future of the MFP in Angole.

Kianyun ejaulo

Robert, Eli, Aniekeme, and Marcellin

Waiting… – Wednesday & Thursday June 12 & 13, 2013

We were a bit disappointed to hear on Tuesday that many of the parts that we needed for the MFP were still in Kampala even though we discussed with the purchaser having them available by Wednesday. A roundtrip journey to Kampala is two days, which means that we had no option but to pause on Wednesday and Thursday because there was not much work that we could do without these parts.

But, we didn’t completely lose these days. On Wednesday, we were able to meet with Julius, a mechanic from Pilgrim who we have worked with closely since the beginning of the MFP project. He recently had a biking accident and has not been able to come to the field with us, but we were able to meet him at his home to discuss our trip. 

We’re really glad that he was feeling well enough for us to meet with him because we were able to gain a more technical perspective on what has and has not worked in the past. This new perspective reassured us that we were on the right track to improving our program and implementation. 

Unfortunately, we mostly spent Thursday waiting to hear from Pilgrim that our supplier was back in Soroti and would be able to begin work again on Friday.

Kianyun ejaulo

Robert, Eli, Aniekeme, and Marcellin

Angole and Aboiboi – Monday & Tuesday June 10 & 11, 2013

Sorry for the lack of updates–the past few days have been very busy and I haven’t had a chance to write a post.
This past weekend was a restful one, and allowed us to discuss what we learned from the communities we visited as well prepare for the upcoming week of implementation. The weekend also came with a malaria scare, but thankfully it was only a bad case of food poisoning and the team was feeling healthy and ready to work by Monday morning.

On Monday, we drove out to the community of Angole to put down the concrete base that the MFP frame is embedded in. The concrete base serves as the foundation for the MFP, providing support and stability for the operation of the engine and attachments.
Although we were a bit behind schedule getting to the community, they greeted us eagerly when we arrived. After a round of introductions and greetings, which we have learned are very important in Uganda, we got to work.
It was an odd experience working alongside the community members, nearly impossible to understand each other through the language barrier. But, eventually, we figured out how to communicate and work together relying on simple words and gestures.
By the end of the day, we were all tired and worn out but happy with what we had accomplished. Even without words, we could understand the excitement to be moving along with the project.
On Tuesday, we headed to the second community, Aboiboi, to put in their bases. Although the team was tired from the previous day, we managed to get there early and complete the work quickly. We are excited to have completed the concrete foundations, not only because it will allow us to move forward with our MFP implementation, but because we have developed a foundation for our relationship with the communities.

Kianyun ejaulo

Robert, Eli, Aniekeme, and Marcellin

Orungo – Friday June 7, 2013

Today we visited the last community that already has an MFP, Orungu. The area that we met in was much smaller than the previous communities and was surrounded by tall, lush grass. The community had a great, quaint feel to it.

Our strong first impression of the community continued when we saw that they had customer’s waiting to use the MFP and the ease with which the operator was able to start up the engine and begin milling the customer’s cassava root. 

During our meeting, we learned that the community was doing very well with the MFP and had all of their attachments working. When we asked what they were using their profits for, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the farming co-op had actually developed a savings fund, comprised of community contributions and MFP profits, that community members could access to take out loans. We were excited to see that the community was so successful in using the MFP and gave us great ideas for our next implementations. 

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We’ve finished our week and have learned a lot and seeing the previous implementations has shown us the value of the work we are doing to implement more sites. We’re planning to use the weekend to relax and recover from the week as well as develop our plans and protocols for our implementation next week.

 Kianyun ejaulo,

Robert, Aniekeme, Eli and Marcellin

Tubur – Thursday June 6, 2013

Today we visited the community of Tubur, about an hour outside of Soroti. The meeting was surprisingly similar to the meeting with Usuk yesterday, with the engine not working because they let air into the fuel lines. After some troubleshooting, the engine was back up and running and we could start our meeting. 

Talking with the community members, we were pleasantly surprised to find that they had a well developed business plan with hopes to use their profits to fund their own extensions to the MFP functionality. 

As we were heading back to Soroti, we stopped at a market about 15 minutes away from our hotel. Apparently, it is the largest market in the region and only opens on Thursdays. It was fascinating to walk around the different booths and see all of the items on sale, such as the fresh fruit, dried fish, bright textiles, and unique goods from the area. 

We’re quickly approaching our implementation date and are eager to begin working with these new communities!

 Kianyun ejaulo

 Robert, Aniekeme, Eli, and Marcellin