Saturday, 20 August 2016

Microfinance and looking forward

Will has made a new friend - the hotel cat has apparently adopted him. We are sure this is not in any way cupboard love, despite Will's habit of feeding the cat with sausage, bacon and cheese! 

Another busy morning today began with our daily drive to Noah's Ark for our sewing workshop. However, this time we stopped on the way at Casuarina House to deliver the sewing machine I bought for them yesterday. We picked up four children - Gereza, Mariam, Monica and Tina M - who wanted to come to sew today, along with Jess.

Phil returned to the hotel to type up the membership list for the SACCO; He was impressed with the amount of work Florence, Emily and Esther had already put in; this is a very committed group of ladies.

Will went off with two young men from the village for an introduction to Utange which he said was very enjoyable and informative.

The sewing went well, though it was a challenge at times to manage 12 different patterns. The group had been described to me as a sewing group, but many of them have very little experience in sewing. If I had realised I would have been less ambitious with the patterns, but I am sure we will get one version of each animal competed this week. I introduced some very simple bags today, and gave Florence a book of small projects which they can investigate after I go.

The inventiveness of children with their toys here is very impressive.  here are two examples - a young lad with a bag made of plastic bands, and children who found an old tyre.


On our return, Sue and I met with Susan, a teacher from Utange Primary School. This was a really positive meeting as we discussed various ways in which we could potentially help the school, where classes can be as large as 118 pupils. We talked about helping parents to earn their own income, recruiting volunteers from the UK, funding the purchase of more computers and sponsoring an additional teacher. All are feasible from the school's perspective. It was good to talk with Susan, who had some excellent ideas and was refreshingly non-grasping in her approach - we really felt that she did not want to take advantage of us and what we might be able to offer.

This trip has really helped me to see ways in which I can use the money I raise to greatest effect. I am enthused by having learnt about the approach to microfinance offered by the setting up of cooperatives called SACCOs and intend all future funding to be delivered through these groups.These will enable me to pay money into a cooperative's bank account, but this money will then be directly transferred to a supplier to pay for the goods which are needed. What is more, this system provides support and accountability for the group, through local officers. Working through groups will be much more efficient, allowing equipment to be shared between individuals. It will be interesting to see how the Noah's Ark group develops and whether other groups will be formed. I am very hopeful that one will rise up around Utange Primary School. I intend to make a new section about SACCOs on this blog when I return - I am so grateful for the expertise and leadership Phil has provided in introducing me to the concept and helping this first group to get off the ground.

After a quiet afternoon we ended the day with cocktails and dinner and, in my case at least, an early night.

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