We are now two and a half weeks into our trip, and thankfully spirits are still high! It’s been a while since our last blog post (sorry!) and a lot has happened, including two birthdays and a good amount of progress. We have now had meetings with EMORG, Upendo and have a meeting with Lulu VICOBA tomorrow.
The women’s group at EMORG is doing great work with their briquetting operation. We have seen a charcoal processing session as well as their final products. Their briquettes are beautiful and they are able to make them in fairly large quantities (about 400 per week). We have noticed, though, that the grinding process has been very labor intensive. They are using a mortar and pestle and it takes about two hours to process their charcoal. Peter and I tried it out, and it’s pretty hard work (I can’t imagine doing it for two hours!). They’ve said that a machine would make their charcoal grinding easier and more efficient, so Frank and Peter are working on creating a processing machine for them (as well as for other groups, hopefully). We will be working with AISE’s founder, Bernard, on this project.
The other exciting news about the women’s group at EMORG is that we went to the market with them and they sold briquettes! They have been making briquettes for a long time, but have not been selling them at the market. Unfortunately, we were only able to stay for about 15 minutes before the downpour of rain came and ended our market day. We were able to sell some, though, and that was very encouraging. It’s great for the women’s group to have briquette-based income so that there are tangible benefits for all of their hard work.
Vision for Youth has also shown promising progress in their briquetting operations. Anna and I have observed their entire process now and are excited about their continued progress as we work together to increase efficiency. We are also trying to arrange meetings between Vision for Youth and our other partners. One of our big goals is to connect these groups together in a way that is beneficial to them, and so we are trying to set up initial meetings. They all seem very excited to meet with each other and share ideas.
We met once with Upendo and enjoyed seeing their space, it was very beautiful. Unfortunately, due to conflicts, we will not be able to meet with them again until early March. We hope, at that point, that we are able to connect them with our other partners before we have to say goodbye to Tanzania.
On a more recreational note, we spent last Saturday in Moshi at the hot springs. They were relaxing and a great break for a day. We swam, ate chipsi mayai, and made some friends!
Baadaye! See you later!