Archive for May, 2010

Heading to Kabompo

Tomorrow morning I leave for Kabompo, which is where I will spend much of the next month. It is Northwestern province. Internet access is sparse, so this might be my last blog post for a while. I will try to compose offline and then when I have internet try to download everything and get it to the world.

I have been enjoying Lusaka these past few days. I like the hustle and bustle of city life. Lots of people coming and going and there is so much to do. It will be quite a contrast to where I am going. A much more remote and smaller set of communities, it will be nice to be removed from so much of the communication that seems inescapable when it is available.

I have been spending much of my time with Mark and Chiko, I am trying to learn the ins and outs of Rent-to-Own (RTO), (see tab). Yesterday, I went to a farm equipment dealer (SARO) and spent a few hours with a mechanic, I am trying to develop manuals for each of the pieces of equiptment that RTO deals with. It is a fun side project, and I have already learned a lot about water pumps, generators, de-huskers, harrows and more. I had to ask a lot of questions but Raphael (the mechanic) was amazing. This manual will hopefully be helpful to people, like me, who have very little mechanical experience. Number one rule, if a machine is making funny noises, turn it off 🙂 That and make sure there is fuel. Ha ha.

The trip to Kabompo will take until maybe Tuesday or Wednesday. I am going to visit a few places where RTO is doing very well. It will be nice to see everything in action. I definitely learn by doing.

Well, that is kind of what has been going on where I am. Hope all is well wherever you are reading this.



Categories: Uncategorized

The flight..

May 18, 2010 1 comment

Misleading title. We actually didn’t get on the flight. But we did get to the airport, through security and on the express moving sidewalk thing. It was a sad walk back.

It was quite a pre-adventure. We will call it our dress rehearsal, and my goodness we did it well.

Currently we are at the EWB house, refusing to un-pack, so the bags stay in the living room creating a larger fire hazard then any of us would like admit.

Our heads and our hearts were ready to leave last night, it is weird feeling to say goodbye to yourself, we will change this summer. Time anywhere makes a person grow. Coming back to the house was not what we had expected to do last night, and I think we were all a little in shock when we finally got home in the wee hours of the morning.

Pre-departure training was a unique experience, it was intense. We worked hard, much of our time was spent learning about our roles in our placements.

Our homework one night was to create a value chain (see value chain tab) for anything. Jessica and I choose to do honey. A simple chain that looks at inputs, production, processing and distribution of a product. The original process was simple.

Source: Hans Hesse Intro to Agriculture Value Chains

Yet, when we presented it to Trevor, he shut us down pretty quickly 🙂 in a good way. We weren’t diving into the complexity of the AVC. we were then sent to the board with an hour to figure it all out. After a quick learning curve involving tomatoes in Ontario we went to it. Below is the result.

Check out our chalk board masterpiece

Anyway, I will post more about AVCs hopefully tomorrow. It has gotten late already, and today has been a long day figuring out how to fix the flights and get us to Southern Africa as soon as possible.

We are now leaving on Wednesday, volcano clouds permitting.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Final Countdown.

May 7, 2010 1 comment

In less then 24 hours I will be hopping on a train and heading to Toronto. Pre-dep starts on Sunday and I am excited to get it all started. So many hours of “pre-pre-depping” and I am finally so close to re-uniting with the Southern Africa group.

I called Mark, the APS that I will be working with, and had a chat. It was very neat to hear more about what he is doing and what I will be working on. As the business is relatively new there is lots to do, and many people to meet.

By the sounds of it I will be based out of Solwezi (north-west Zambia)  for most of the summer, but get to travel around with the other staff to smaller communities. I think a lot of what I will be doing is working with the agents Mark has hired, we will be trying to find other people to be agents and working with community members interested in the Rent-to-Own business.

Starting a business is something that I have always been very interested in, there are so many aspects that have to be explored. I have been checking out business plan structures, looking at different forms of catalogs, how to run a “cash and carry”, what to look for when hiring people and the role of “risk” for many of the farmers involved.

This past semester I was in a Development Economics course and it is exciting to see how I can apply some of what I have learned to what I am doing this summer.

Well, I am going to read and organize a bit more. Send any questions you have!

Categories: Uncategorized