In mid-September, the EGG-energy management team traveled to Iringa, 500km southwest of Dar es Salaam, to assess the potential market in this area and establish a trial EGG-energy franchise (http://egg-energy.com/from-the-field/page/2/). Almost three weeks ago, I returned to Iringa with Mohamed (Mudi), one of EGG-energy’s electrical technicians.
The purpose of this new trip was to check in with Mr. Saidi, our franchisee, and to improve our understanding of the Iringa area and EGG’s potential for development there. Mr. Saidi kindly hosted Mudi and me at his farm in Igomtwa, about 60km south of Iringa in the Mufindi district. I spent five days in and around Igomtwa, accompanying Mudi as he installed wiring for new customers, talking to local residents of near-by villages about their potential interest in EGG’s services, and gaining from Mr. Saidi insight into large-scale maize farming in southwest Tanzania. With the information obtained from this trip, we are continuing to assess the viability of EGG-energy in Iringa, and the modifications we should consider for our franchise model to operate successfully in very rural areas. I will keep you posted as the new franchise develops.
My Iringa adventures continued after I left Mr. Saidi’s farm. From Igomtwa I traveled by motorcycle and packed minibus southwest to Mafinga, the capital of the Mufindi district. There I was met by Mr. van Alphen, the founder of an orphanage and support center for children and families affected by HIV, who I first met in Dar in early October. The center is called Yatima, Moyo kwa Moyo, and is located in Matanana, a small village 22km west from Mafinga along a rough dirt road. In Swahili, “yatima” means “orphan,” and “moyo kwa moyo” means “heart to heart.” Mr. van Alphen, or “Mr. Moyo” as he likes to be called, is a Swede who came to Tanzania as a tourist in 2004, fell in love with the place and its children, and committed himself to helping them.
Mufindi, an area encompassing the towns of Iringa and Mafinga, has one of the highest HIV infection rates in all of Tanzania. One significant reason for this is the presence of large plantations that attract a young and itinerant workforce. When Mr. Moyo arrived in Tanzania in 2004, there were many very young children in Matanana in need of care because they did not have any living relatives who could support them. Now, thankfully, improved access to antiretroviral drugs and the subsequent increased life expectancy of HIV positive parents has greatly decreased the number of babies without parents or relatives, shifting Yatima’s focus from childcare to support for school-age kids.
Yatima provides a home for 15 children. Almost 200 other orphans who live with their extended families come to the center for meals, activities, vocational training, and just a safe place to spend time after school and on weekends. The center also draws a regular stream of volunteers, mostly from Sweden, who stay for a month or two and, in addition to gaining a valuable experience in rural Tanzania, shower the kids with much needed attention and affection.
The website for Yatima (in Swedish, google translaor worked fine if your Swedish is rusty) is http://www.yatima.se/. I was inspired by Mr. Moyo’s success in using limited foreign aid to develop local income-generating projects, creating an effective and sustainable effort to improve the health, education, and general wellbeing of Matanana’s orphans. My intention is that, through an NGO partner, EGG-energy can help Mr. Moyo get a solar system for his center. If further research into the Matanana area is promising, we may in the future set up an EGG-energy franchise at Yatima to distribute some of the solar electricity to the surrounding community.
To provide a sense of geography, I marked the approximate locations of Mr. Saidi’s farm and the Matanana orphanage on this google map. Most of the photographs in this post are from my stay in Igomtwa, a few are from Yatima in Matanana. I hope you enjoy them.