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April 19

Cynthia and the children at Sukuma museum.

It’s incredible to think that we have less than two months left in Mwanza. Things are progressing smoothly, and it’s amazing to see how fast the program is taking off. It’s truly exciting to think that once we leave, the community will be able to continue producing yogurt! What’s even more exciting is the prospect of the women having their own goats to produce milk. We hope that during the next internship, this goal will be accomplished.

This week was a trying one, given that the hydro for the last few days was off. Since we have been here, the power hasn’t been that big of an issue, having been disconnected for only short periods of time and mainly during the evening hours. However, from Thursday evening to Monday morning the power was off more than it was on. It's a concern because we are now refrigerating approximately 12 to 20 litres of yogurt at any given time. We need a reliable energy source for refrigeration and pasteurization. For this reason we decided to purchase gas burners for the community kitchen, while still trying to investigate the possibility of using solar energy. Some of the Kivulini staff are concerned about using gas. However, electric burners are unable to achieve the level of heat needed to warm the milk up to the required temperature. We have assured them that we will train everyone on how to properly work with gas. We will also be purchasing fire extinguishers and other devices to ensure a high standard of safety. (For anyone with other possible solutions or suggestions, please e-mail us or feel free to leave suggestions via the comment button.)

The highlight of the week was our Saturday morning meeting with all the "yogurt mamas"! We were looking forward to updating everyone on the progress of the program thus far, and make sure everyone feels included in the process. It was very productive to sit down and talk about how everyone feels things are going so far. We discussed any concerns they had about the program, the yogurt-making process, equipment, and more. It was reassuring to hear positive feedback about the process and its relative ease. We were also able to share yogurt samples with the women who have yet to begin their training. At the end of the meeting, we handed out production schedules of when everyone would be coming in to help out.

Sunday was a relaxing day, starting off with our regular routine of going to church and then heading to the Sunday market for fresh produce. The evening proved to be a adventurous one, in that we met up with friends and headed down to Tunza Lodge on Lake Victoria for some volleyball and dinner. For dinner, Cynthia ordered something special: a mouth-watering hamburger! Just one of the many different foods we have been craving. Sometimes we feel like we are on Survivor when we start talking about the things we miss the most. Of course on the top of our list is family and friends, but next is usually some sort of food -- either a meat dish or dessert.

Yesterday (Monday) was fairly regular. We had our seventh trainee come in. We can't emphasize enough how impressed we've been with the calibre of people we have taught. Bravo to them!

The week ahead will involve sorting out the many project-sustainability issues, including drawing up detailed job descriptions of the microbiologist and the yogurt supervisor. The successful progress of the training project to date, along with the all-too-rapid approach of our internship's end have gotten us into departure-preparation mode. This is somewhat sad, but at the same time we are glad to get a leg up on it so that we are not rushing at the last minute. Nonetheless, as we’ve said in the past, this project is looking like something that will be truly and successfully sustainable by the community, and for this, we are both filled with immense satisfaction. Having this project not work, or having it simply fall apart in our absence was perhaps our greatest fear before arriving here. More and more, that fear is being abolished by the success of our yogurt mamas and their determination to make this project not just survive, but thrive, now and in the future.

Well, here’s hoping that next week will be fully of reliable power and cool weather!

April 25, 2005 | Permalink

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