Preparing for this trip I knew there would be several topics that would be challenging: Replacing Labani as manager and informing the groups that One Small Drop would be dissolving in 2 years. Yet I was excited to go back and see how the projects were doing and reconnect with friends.
It turned out to be a wonderful trip! Katie Mead joined me. She is no stranger to the Mwakaleli area. 4 years ago I was able to arrange for her to volunteer at the health care center in Kandete. She stayed for 3 months. Her many friends were VERY excited to welcome her back!
We arrived 12 hours late in the mountains due to missing our flight in Dar es Salaam, but we were greeted by Sara Mwalilino (Pr. Andrea’s wife), and Tupo (out interpreter).
Oscar has been working with the women’s groups while Labani had been sick last year and was highly recommended to be the one that takes on the manager position. The women embraced him with open arms. He impressed me more than I can say! He was gentle, encouraging, respectful and charming.
We visited ALL of our groups and they shared how their projects were going. With each visit I could see Oscar’s confidence blossom and grow into this beautiful leader. With the dissolution of One Small Drop, I pointed out that Lukamenda (the non-profit organization the women organized, having 2 representatives from each group) would have to figure out a way to take over the support of the manager position. They developed 2 plans to do this:
1. They will create a Lukamenda Micro Loan Project, with each community contributing $10/month to get the fund started. (By the way, 8 individual women groups are also doing their own Micro Loans and profiting nicely – helping both the local women getting the loans and interest to the group).
2. They plan to use the irrigation project. Lukamenda members would get the irrigation for free, but other local farmers would pay to use/hire the irrigation system.
It was encouraging to listen to the reports and watch them figure out when a project wasn’t working to their standards, they felt confident enough to change the project.