My very first projects in Africa were in the side by side villages of Mulanda and Lwala in eastern Uganda near the border with Kenya. Most of the homes are traditional huts built with peaceful, well groomed yards and gardens. My good friends Dorothy and Fabian come from these places and their extended families still live there. I have come to know very well some of the people that live in the villages and many by face, if not name. They treat me like family when I visit. That is why it is so disappointing that the two pig cooperatives in Lwala and Mulanda are our worst performing cooperatives. It seems that the people are not willing to work hard and stay organized.
We met today with the group from Lwala and were met, as always, with the traditional ay ay ay ay ay ay that the ladies always shout when I arrive. They were smiling, I was smiling, everyone was happy and hugging and singing, but then the meeting began and the mood quickly changed. Unfortunately, we had to tell them that we are only going to give this project 6 months to see if they can turn it around. After 6 months, we will be finished if there is no progress. We don’t have this problem in other cooperatives, so it is very difficult to understand.
After the meeting, the ladies had prepared for us a delicious traditional Ugandan meal of meat, rice, matoke (mashed plantains), and my personal favorite, kalo (millet cake). It started off somber, but before long, we were all smiling again. I look forward to this meal every year. I love the food and the people and there is something so satisfying about eating in the village.
Tomorrow we will meet with the group from Mulanda, but I am expecting the outcome to be much the same. DAY 2
I was correct about the second group. It was very disappointing. We developed a new strategy with them to see if they can salvage the project and, in the meantime, we are going to engage a new group in the piggery.
After the meeting, we drove for 4 1⁄2 hours to the northern Uganda town of Lira. Tomorrow we will meet with a potential new partner.