We are back in The Netherlands since yesterday, welcomed by a cold rain. For iron, to harden it, it is first heated then plunged in cold water. For people, coming from 37oC to a rainy 4oC does not make you stronger.

Hippopotamus pond

Marketing 101

We  developed a project for a bakery in the country side. The idea was to use a maximum of locally produced cereals (millet or corn). Less imported goods like wheat being better for the country and the farmers. So we started to make bread with part millet or corn flour, very nutritious. Even so they were nice breads, the rural people wanted to have what the people in the town have: wheat flour bread.

It took me a couple of weeks at the beginning of this trip to understand that if we want the bakery to be successful, we had to produce the “town” bread. Before that I was convinced that we could convince the people to have a better bread.

Obviously, my impression that we could change their mentality just like that was wrong. Let us first make sure that the bakery is profitable and then we can start making some try-outs.

Odile talking with the bakers. In the background, the women of the soumbala project

During our discussion a snake came to participate.

Female students waiting in the shade of a tree

Responsibilities

Beginning of September I realised that since the beginning of July we had consumed 50% more fuel than normal for our generator at the LAP. This did not make sense since we had converted several houses to solar energy and that it was also during the months with very few students at the school.

Neither our director (who writes the order) nor our accountant (who registers the account) noticed that we ordered 800 litres per month instead of every 6 weeks. Nobody could give me an explanation. For me the only explanation was that somebody was stealing our fuel. This was confirmed in October when one of our employees almost caught somebody while filling a plastic container.

This person knew the LAP habits very well since he was doing this around 6 pm, time when all the students and personnel are in their quarters and just before the arrival of the guards at 6:30 pm. We estimate that 1.200 litres of fuel were stolen in a period of 4 months.

We know that it is somebody from one of the 3 neighbourhood villages. We also know that some people know who it is. We had a meeting with delegates from the villages and asked them to investigate and come back to us with information. We told them that we are only interested in getting our money back. In village people cannot denounce others because of possible retaliation from other villagers. I doubt that we will have any information.

Our next step will be to make a formal complaint to the local police. If they decide to take the case, we might see some results.

We have placed a light with a motion detector at the fuel reservoir and we will also fence the area. Hopefully this adventure will make our local personnel more attentive to financial transactions. In any case they know that we cannot accept this another time.

Nature

Proverbs of the week

Even if you hide your excrements in the bottom of the water, they always float back to the surface.

If an animal tells you he can talk, he’s probably lying.

Next blog in February 2020.

I wish you a nice winter.

Hervé

 

 

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