Friday, August 9, 2013

This entry is written by Hannah. Hello!

This week at Djigui has been busy, with a great sense of progression and development. The most significant events of the week were the visits from the UK professionals of N-Power and Notts County. On Monday, Gemma and Dean came to Djigui Espoir to offer training to the international volunteers (Emily, Clara, Michael and I) as well as the national volunteers (Ives and Beatrice) and the members of Djigui.

Gemma’s specialism is marketing and communications, so she gave a presentation to some of the women of Djigui regarding how they can make the most of their marketing opportunities when they go to sell at food festivals. She gave practical advice such as how the women who will be selling should arrive early and immediately check out their opposition – any competitors, and the prices that they are selling similar products for. This would allow Djigui to gain the upper hand, and either match or beat the prices of their competitors. Gemma also mentioned how the products should be presented at the stall, that they should be displayed in such a way that they face the customers and give the appearance that there are many and that they are selling very well.

Dean’s area of expertise is in sports coaching, so he worked with Michael, who also coaches sport, to assess the women’s physical difficulties and disabilities. Together they discussed some exercises that might be beneficial to the women that may ease some of the discomfort that their disabilities cause. Dean also gave Michael a wrist brace for the women to use, which was very kind.

One of the tasks that I am currently working on is the production of a combined catalogue and order form listing the products that Djigui sells. It will be a double-sided piece of paper, with the first side featuring as simply as possible a photo of each product for sale, with a brief description and the price. I got the idea from the layout of the Argos catalogue, but am aiming to produce a clearer, simplified version. On that side will also feature a brief explanation as to what Djigui Espoir is, and how beneficial buying their products is to the charity. On the other side is an order form that I created to make the ordering of Djigui’s products quick, clear and simple. I really enjoy doing this specific task, as it takes me back to when I studied graphic design at college – which I haven’t done anything similar to since I left, so it’s great to be able to embrace my creative side in a useful way!

On Tuesday, the internet was down at work, so we all had to improvise tasks that we could occupy ourselves with that weren’t internet-dependant. The vast majority of our work depends on being able to access the internet, as we carry out a great deal of research and communicate with businesses, NGOs and charities through email. However, I set to work on the catalogue/order form, and took photographs of some of Djigui’s products to include in the catalogue, editing them and inserting them into the document. Emily and Clara spent some time in the soya production area, and Michael worked on his exercises for the women. So it wasn’t all bad!

On Wednesday, we had our visit from Martin and Hannah of N-Power. Firstly, Martin gave us a really useful introduction to using a project planning tool called a Gantt chart. He gave us an in-depth explanation of how to form the chart, and aided us in creating a plan and timescale for all the tasks that we would like to complete whilst at Djigui.

Things were quite busy on Thursday, so we didn't really get to focus on one thing for a long period of time. Being the 1st of August, we were able to head to the IS office to collect our monthly allowances, so this took a small chunk out of the working day. Also, two women from the ministry of health came in order to do a presentation for the women of Djigui regarding health and sanitation. As with most Burkinab√© meetings, this lasted for a good few hours, but they covered many topics that were useful to the women - such as how to properly wash their hands, and how to hygienically handle food etc. We sat in on the meeting and got on with some research while it was taking place, as they used the main room which we usually have as our office. Many members of Djigui attended, and they seemed really interested in what they were learning, as the information covered a lot of detail and was very practical as it strongly related to the work that takes place here.

On the evening, we headed to a restaurant to have a goodbye meal with the people from N-Power and Notts County, it was lovely, and Hannah and Martin announced, to our astonishment, that before they had come they had managed to raise £5000! This was such amazing news, and it meant that hopefully, Djigui would now be able to afford the £650 that was urgently required to pay for the installation of the sterilization machine that the Taiwanese were coming to install the following day.

On Friday morning, Jean Pascal arrived for a meeting with us. We went through the team planning tool, addressing the tasks that were underway and how they were going. From the information that Martin had given us – the project planning tool – Valeria had made a brilliant wall chart clearly displaying everything that we need to do in order to fulfil the project objectives. We went through this and each told Jean what we were doing, and he asked if we had any issues that we would like to bring up.

In the afternoon, two men from Taiwan arrived, to begin the process of fitting the sterilization machine that has been waiting to be installed for a really long time. This is a sign of progress that Djigui really needs, and if they can fit the machine and get the women trained up, then that will be so beneficial to Djigui, as it means that the soya milk they produce will have a much longer shelf life. It was quite funny/unfortunate that the second the two men arrived, we had a massive storm, the power shut off, and the road outside Djigui flooded! What a great welcome to sub-Saharan Africa – pouring rain!

Overall, it’s been a great week, and it feels like quite a lot of progress has been made. The project planning tool that Martin introduced to us has been really useful in clearly documenting the work we’ve done and what we have yet to do, and it feels like we’re well on our way to making a positive impact here at Djigui.

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