Friday, October 20, 2017

Day two in Njombe Region - Ukalawa and Idamba

This morning we woke to a nice crisp and foggy dawn.  No, we are not back in Minnesota enjoying the fall; we are in Njombe where the morning temperature is about 49!  Today we visited three locations here in Njombe.  The first one is still getting organized, the second one has submitted their paperwork for registration, and the third has gone through two loan cycles.

We drove off into the mist at 7:30 sharp, stopping first to pick up Pastor Gabriel Nduye from the Njombe Center for Agricultural Development (CAD).  Pastor Nduye spent the day with us.

After picking up Pastor Nduye we headed for Ukalawa.  This is a new village for us.  The SACCOS here is just forming so Peter gave a class on how to organize your SACCOS. 

Arrivng at Ukalawa we found a group waiting for us.  This group is very excited to get their SACCOS going and it shows.  The group originally had 45 members, but when they started collecting entrance fees the number quickly dropped to 31; they were all here today.  There is always some attrition when people realize that Iringa Hope is not giving money away, and that membership has obligations as well as benefits.

We had an opening song and prayer.  There were introductions and then I got up to talk to the group.  Since this is a new group I decided to talk a little about why Iringa Hope is different than other groups.  I told them that Iringa Hope is different in many ways.  First, our members own everything – no one else owns anything. Second, our members make all of the decisions and are responsible for their SACCOS.  Third, we train our members and give them help and support. At one point I told them they would own the car I was in and asked them please to let me keep using it until I got back home. This was humor that actually passed the “translation test;” fortunately they allowed us to keep the car.
I always like giving candy to the
children.  This little girl had such a pretty

Peter gave a long class about what they need to do to finish forming and registering.  So far they have collected 1,080,000 TZS.  They need to complete some forms and collect 720,000 TZS more.  They told Peter they would have this done by November 30.  Peter will be back after they have accomplished it.  There were lots of questions and Peter spent almost two hours on his class. 

We went over to a small chai house for a break and then headed to Idamba – we were on a tight schedule today.  To get to Idamba we went back the way we had come, then took a right and continued down the rutted road.  It took us about an hour to make the drive.  As we went along the fog burned off and the view cleared.  It is truly a beautiful view up here in tea country.  The tea leaves are full and the colors are truly vibrant.
The fog lifted.  It is very pretty here in tea country.

We pulled into Idamba at one o’clock.  Once again, the group was waiting for us.  We went right into our meeting.  Idamba parish has a new pastor. He is very interested in having a SACCOS here.  He thinks it will help his parish and he wants to see the people prosper.

As the pastor talked to the gathering we took attendance.  There were 38 of the 52 members here, which we think was very good.  The pastor preached to the gathering about the need to be faithful and  work diligently.  Pastor Nduye tells us that there are NO financial institutions here or at Ukalawa.  They have no micro lenders, farm programs or NGOs.   The people living here are very anxious to get a SACCOS that can help them.
It was a tight fit but everyone was excited.

Once again, I talked to the group about how Iringa Hope is different than other SACCOS.  I always think that it is important that our new villages clearly understand our starting principles and appreciate what is expected of them as “owners and operators.”  Peter of course covers this in detail, but I like to start by emphasizing the overall ideas. There was laughter when I tell them that Peter works for them and please do not fire him! 

The class that Peter gave here was a little different than his earlier one.  This group has already collected 1,800,000 TZS and filled in their paperwork.  They have had their initial election and are waiting on the co-op office to take action.  Everyone here is hopeful that their registration will be completed by the end of next month.  We hope so, but we have no control over this.

We waited while Peter finished his instructions.  Once again there were a lot of questions.  The people here are anxious to get started.  As we wait I talked with the chairman of the group, with the translation help of Pastor Nduye.   The chairman wanted to know how they join Iringa Hope Joint SACCOS and what that means. He is also very interested in getting some help with marketing of crops, but I explained that marketing is done with an AMCOS, which will be the next step after the SACCOS has had a few successful loan cycles. The group served us lunch after Peter finished his class and we headed for  Kanikelele for our third meeting of the day!


  1. How wonderful- many new SACCOS-
    What excellent work you all do. Hi to Peter and Itiweni and Enock! Safari Njema! ❤️

  2. Good to hear about their excitement to start.