Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Day At The University

Today we went over to the University to check in with our office.  Since we formed the Micro Finance Institute (MFI) with Tumaini University (now called Iringa University), we have had an office in the faculty area.  Until recently our office had been open only by appointment.  Recently we hired an intern who keeps the office open most days.  We had not met the intern yet so we stopped by to see him. 

Peter answered the door when I knocked by calling a greeting in Swahili.  He was surprised when I walked in and introduced myself.  “I had been expecting the officers of one of the SACCOS.  I did not think you would come to see me.”  He told me.  Peter is a recent Iringa University graduate in Community Development.  He is hoping to get a job with the Iringa City or Regional government.  He told me that wanted to be an intern for us because Iringa Hope has a good name and it would help him get a job – I hope so.

I went over the files on our SACCOS.  Last year when we were here we found that Itiweni had very little written information on our SACCOS.  This is pretty common in Tanzania where the traditions are oral and people just do not like to write things down.  I was happy to see that she now had the start of files on most of the SACCOS and has developed a very good set of application forms, registration documents, etc.  A good start but it still needs work!

From there it was over to see Prof Ugulumu (Enock).  Enock is our local Director of the MFI.  He also is the University Planning Officer, the Business School Coordinator, as well as several other jobs.  Still, with all of his responsibilities, Iringa Hope and micro finance are top on his list.  When we stopped into his office he had a meeting going on.  “Give me five minutes and I will tell everyone to go away so we can work together.” He told us.  So, 15 minutes later, everyone was gone and Enock was ready to go to work! 

We first met Enock in 2005.  At that time he was working for the Diocese on an HIV/AIDS project.  When we met him something just “clicked” and we have had great fun working together ever since.  Enock has deep ties to his community and its development.  He has worked in community development for over 14 years.  He knows government officials, banking officers, village officials, etc.  It seems whenever we need to have a contact somewhere Enock has one!  We spent several hours talking about Iringa Hope, our goals, and making plans for how to accomplish all we want to.

It now looks like Itiweni will not be able to travel with us for another two weeks.  Enock has canceled many of his meetings and is planning to go with us on Thursday – Saturday this week and next week.  We will likely try making one or two visits with our new intern Peter as well.  All in all our schedule will be a bit slower than planned for the next few weeks (we had planned to make visits 6 days a week), but that is probably good for us old folks!

As we were leaving the University to go check on some safes we have purchased we ran into Prof. Rev. Alex Mhanga.  Alex had lived with us when he was in the US in 1991.  He would like us to go to his church and preach on next Sunday.  He said he had several we might visit – we will see.  As we said good bye to Alex we met Kikunga – the Purchasing agent at Tumaini.  Then there was Prof. Obeid , from music; the chair of the Science department (I worked with him when we taught here in 2005) who wants us to come and teach; a group from the Lutheran Center; and so on.  It must have taken us over an hour to get out of the door.

It looks like tomorrow will be another day to do administrative tasks.  There are safes to check on, the bank to work on (we want to get everyone free bank accounts), a radio program to get ready (yes, we will soon start broadcasting again), and some meetings to attend!

The Iringa University campus is very pretty.

After waiting for two days we finally got our insurance and license so we could drive our car.  It is a bit of a wreck, but it should get us there.

We stopped at our office and met our intern Peter.

Itiweni's records have improved and she has done a great job on organizing application forms, etc.

When we knocked on his door Enock had a meeting going on.  "Give me 5 minutes and I will send everyone away so we can talk."  And he did just that!

It took us over an hour to get out of the door at the University.  We kept meeting people we knew who wanted to talk.  Prof. Rev. Alex Mhanga wanted to know if we might go with him to his church and preach next Sunday.  

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