Mama Tatu on Being a Leader

To be a leader is no easy task. With leadership comes many responsibilities. Enough to make your head hurt solely from thinking too much. Enough to lose sleep. And when you lead, you have to know how to read people; to speak with each individual in a way that makes sense to them. You will have to deal with many different personalities even in one small group, and that is a huge challenge. But we lead because we have been chosen. We lead to ensure the success of our group and the success of our Partners. We lead because we want to reach Maisha Bora (the Good Life), and together we can do it!

Mama Tatu, group Treasurer and TZAC Representative, explaining to me her view of being a leader both in our group and in the 2Seeds Network as a whole.

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What a Wonderful World

Yesterday I drove up to Bungu in the mountains for our second project site visit of the year. On the piki ride up the mountain, Saidi (2Seeds driver and one of my best friends) and I were each sharing an earbud of my iPod listening to different songs in English. I chose to play the song “Where is the Love” by the Black Eyed Peas, and proceeded to translate it into Swahili. I told Saidi that they are essentially asking where the love is in the world, because right now people are killing each other, starting wars, children are getting hurt, etc. The world is not a good place.

I then contrasted this with Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” I translated those lyrics, explaining that he is describing the world as a beautiful place – green trees, white clouds, friends shaking hands saying I love you – a wonderful world.

Saidi slowed down the piki to ask me a question: Which song do I agree with? Do I think the world is a terrible place full of war and hate, or do I think it’s beautiful and full of love? I responded that I would really like to agree with Louis. Yes, there are terrible things in the world. But ultimately, I believe people are good. Saidi nodded, and I took that as a cue to choose a new song – “Tutti Frutti!”

Since it is obviously impossible to listen to that song without dancing, I momentarily put my phone in my lap to wave my arms in the air as we drove past the most picturesque leg of our journey up the mountain.

When the song ended, I reached down to retrieve my phone, only to find that it was no longer there! I immediately told Saidi, and he turned around. We spent an hour scouring the road trying to find my phone. We found the back cover, but the phone itself was gone. Saidi assured me that it had been found by somebody in the 2 minute duration of “Tutti Frutti” or else we would have found it along with the cover. We started back up the mountain feeling a bit defeated.

He explained that if someone finds a phone, they are likely to sell it rather than return it. He told me not to be too hopeful because I probably would not get it back.

Saidi then asked me again: “Dom, do you still agree with Louis? Do you still think people are good?”

I told him I would still like to believe so. I was not giving up hope yet.  I reminded him that if he were to find a phone in the road, he would do everything in his power to return it. He agreed and pulled over at least 15 times along the way to try calling my phone. Each time it was unreachable, until we finally arrived at the top of the mountain.

The phone started to ring and a smile erupted on Saidi’s face! I heard him explain to the person on the other end that I dropped the phone on my ride, and that I really need that phone to do my work (it’s true – that phone has over 100 contacts in it that I pull from regularly, and even though I barely have network in Bombo, I still manage to use my phone often).

It just so happens that the man who found my phone is the newly elected government official for the entire Bungu region, and he was on his way to Korogwe when he found it. He told me it would be in safe keeping until I could come and claim it.

Today, I rode an hour up another absolutely gorgeous mountain, through chai fields and past waterfalls, to meet him at his house and get my phone. Sure enough, he was there waiting for me with my phone fully in tact, and on top of that, he gave me a gift of fruits to take with me for the long journey.

So folks, I still stand by Louis. People are good. The love is here. It truly is a wonderful world!

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Mid-Year Investor Report

To Investors and Stakeholders in the Bombo Majimoto Project,

Since her return in August, Dom and Project Partners have been working ceaselessly across the network to go full steam ahead towards Maisha Bora, the good life. There are not enough words to express our gratitude for your support along this journey.

Dom has prepared a Mid-Year Investor Report to capture the progress  made so far in the first half of her time working on the Bombo Majimoto Project this year. The report includes highlights, challenges, status updates towards project goals, and a financial report. We hope that this report will provide good insight into the work here on the ground, and show you what we have been able to accomplish thanks to your support.

Bombo Majimoto Project 2015-2016 Mid-Year Investor Report

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the Project Coordinators also filmed a video focusing on what they are most grateful for in their daily life and work here with 2Seeds.

Please support us in our ongoing journey to Maisha Bora by donating to the 2Seeds Network!

Asanteni sana from the 2Seeds Ground Team,

Ana, Jen, and Hailey

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Mid-Year Investor Report

Check out our Mid-Year Investor Report! It provides a breakdown of our spending thus far, projections for future investments, anecdotes and pictures.

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Rainy Day? Let’s Dry Crops!

After 3 days of hard work, 1 lost and found battery, 1 torrential downpour, lots of sweat, focus and determination, we finally finished building our solar dryer!

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We brought in an expert, Mike, all the way from Nairobi to oversee the construction. He was there to ensure that the building was done correctly and efficiently. It was a great opportunity for our Partners to ask questions, exchange ideas, and learn in order to fix the solar dryer later if we experience any problems (ensuring its sustainability).

We have also built 3 shelves, each 1m x 5m with 5 layers, which gives us more space for drying our crops. We began to move our hot peppers to these shelves yesterday!

Hamdani was the MVP of the construction, and he was even offered a job in Nairobi. Mike mentioned that he is “smart, creative and hard-working.” All things we already know and respect about Hamdani.

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Hamdani was wiped out after 3 full days of work!

 

We are excited to see the results from this solar dryer and will definitely continue to post updates!

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The Epic Challenge of Getting Supplies to Bombo Part 1

What does it take to get all of the supplies to build a storage unit and office to Bombo Majimoto?

Let me set the scene:

The garlic has already been harvested, and will need to be stored soon (within 3-4 weeks). You are building on Mzee Shebe’s land, where you built the greenhouses. His land is set off the road, with only a narrow path winding through multiple farms leading up to it. There is no way you can transport all of the supplies you need by motorcycle or by hand, because you realize you need hundreds of giant rocks that are too heavy for one person to lift, thousands of bricks, 50 bags of cement, and 3 full truckloads of sand to mix with that cement, along with other supplies. You have been waiting for the people in the surrounding farms to harvest their corn to pass a car through. After meeting with a contractor, you go to talk to the people of the farms, and they tell you they have finished harvesting, but have already replanted! They give you 3 days to drive over the land in a truck before their corn starts to sprout. You are also entering into the rainy season, and if heavy rains come, the truck you rent cannot get up the mountain to Kwemkole, where all of your supplies are waiting to be transported. Also, there are no trucks, or cars for that matter, in Bombo to rent, so you either have to wait for a car to pass through and ask what their availability is, or you must find cell reception to call places outside of Bombo to find a truck.

What did we do?

We ended up getting in touch with Mr. Bodo from Magoma, who then put us in touch with a man who has access to a dump truck. The dump truck would not be available until Wednesday (the last day we were permitted to pass a car through the land and the day before I had to go into Korogwe for 4 days for a meeting). We ordered the truck, and followed through every day until we went to pick it up.

Now, I would like to walk you through some of the challenges and complexities that we have met throughout this process, along with some of our big decisions and ways to surmount these challenges.

Day 1:

6:10am – Get on the bus with Saidi, a Bombo 2Seeds piki driver who is helping you out, to go to Magoma, a little over an hour away, to get the dump truck

7:30am – Arrive in Magoma and head over to the shop to get the dump truck. The owner has accidentally sent the truck somewhere else, and asks you to come back tomorrow. You tell him absolutely not. You have already paid to get to Magoma, it’s the last day until to transport the supplies before the corn sprouts, and you have to be in Korogwe tomorrow. He apologizes. You ask him (tell him) to find another truck.

9:30am – After 2 hours, he finds a truck that was supposed to work in Magoma all day, and changes their schedule. They pack the truck with 50 bags of cement, 47 tin roof pieces, 13 pieces of rebar, and 8 bags of wall paint, and you are on your way to Bombo!

10:30am – You realize en route that you have way too many supplies to take off the truck, and must assemble a team who has had previous experience to do it, or you will lose a ton of valuable time, as you are renting the truck for just one day. Luckily, in the road, you come across the group of men who always take bags of corn off of their giant truck, and you ask them for help. You realize you will have to pay them, another expense in this process that you did not realize you needed to account for because you have never done this before.

11am – It’s a good thing you found those men to help you out, because only 3 Partners showed up to help take things off the truck. After trekking through the farms over rough terrain, you realize the truck has been punctured and has a leak that needs to be fixed. You lose a little time, but the experienced workers do their best to fix it quickly.

11:30am – You head up the mountain to Kwemkole to get the first batch of rocks (originally thinking rocks would be 2 trips).

12:45pm – You realize that because you are in a giant dumptruck and the driver is not used to the road, it takes over an hour to get up the mountain, usually a 30 minute trip. You get to the first set of rocks, but the workers who have agreed to put them on the truck are nowhere to be seen. Saidi goes to look for them, but you are losing time. You, Hamdani, and the truck assistant start heaving rocks into the truck, most too big for just one person to lift. You fill the entire truck in 40 minutes, and as you throw in the last one, the workers show up. Great timing… You tell them to return in 2 hours to get the second round. They tell you that the truck only holds ¼ of the rocks you need, so instead of 2 trips, you will need 4.

2pm – You get back to Mzee Shebe’s and pour out the rocks. The driver reminds you that they have not eaten, so you head back to Bombo to get food.

2:30pm – In the 20 minutes the driver and his assistant are getting food, you go with Hamdani to find rocks in Bombo to reduce your travel time to Mzee Shebe’s and get more trips in during 1 day. You negotiate a price with a man who is willing to sell his rocks that he was planning to use later. It is a bit more expensive, but the closer distance means you can get them all today. You have already planned with the men in Kwemkole to come get another truckload of rocks, so you head up for what you think will be your last trip.

3:00pm – Head up the mountain.

3:45pm – The next set of rocks are off the beaten path, the truck barrels through the bush where a team of men are waiting to load them. You tell the men you will not need more rocks today.

4:45pm – You arrive back to Mzee Shebe’s and unload the second batch of rocks. You now head to Makorokoro, in the opposite direction of Kwekole, to get bricks. Talking to the driver, you realized the truck can hold 1,000 bricks at 1 time because the road is so bad and he does not want to overload. That means you will now have to make 4 trips for the bricks. You get to Makorokoro (20 minutes away), only to be told that the bricks you ordered were sold 20 minutes ago to someone in the seller’s family who showed up with cash. You have now lost 40 minutes of time and have no bricks. Had you had cell reception, you could have been called about this sale, but you don’t. You head back to Bombo to get more rocks, but realize there is nobody to load them into the truck.

5:00pm – You ask the rock seller if putting the rocks on the truck is included in the price (which is already inflated), and he refuses. You cannot find a team to load them, and you are losing time, so you send Saidi back up the mountain on his piki to alert the men you had already planned and worked with, to prepare more rocks. You head up the mountain in the truck.

5:45pm – The men put another batch in the truck and you head back down the mountain.

6:45pm – You pour out the last batch of rocks at Mzee Shebe’s. It is almost dark and you can no longer continue working. The driver and his assistant leave, and you and Saidi return to Bombo.

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While today was extremely productive, there were many opportunities to learn from in order to plan better in the future. You still need to get sand to mix the cement, small rocks to build, and 4,000 bricks (which now need to be created again).

You realize you will have to continue to drive over the farms, so you will have to compensate the owner. But you are going to Korogwe tomorrow, and the weekend is the presidential election, so most work is shutting down. The contractor wants to start work the following week, but needs all of the supplies. What do you do? See next week’s post to find out!

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LET’S BUILD!

We are currently in the process of building a solar dryer and a storage unit/office in Bombo, both of which are essential in our production process, but we need your help!

Please consider making a donation, and/or sharing this with your networks! The construction is urgent, and we hope to reach our goal over the next two weeks in order to complete everything in a timely manner.

Check out this link for view the campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/pb6zf67k

Thank you for all of your support!

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