Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cohort 3 - Blog 3

Week 5 brought the team back together after 2 weeks; how good it was to be reunited after two weeks plagued by illness!  Revitalised by being all together again, the week was full of progress.  We continued to begin each day by working in the garden, watering the now green sapling boabs and feeding the pigs, one of which is ever more pregnant.

 At the start of the week, we began discussing in earnest the market research of dried mango.  We brainstormed how best to go about conducting our market research, what exactly it is that we want to find out, and what market we wanted to target.  Armed with a list of question, facts and figures, we headed to nearby Koudougou on Wednesday to do an initial piece of research into potential buyers of dried mango.  In groups of two, we explored different areas of the town, enquiring in all the alimentations (little shops) and a couple of hotels as to whether they would be interested in buying the dried mango, and general conversations about what they thought about the idea.  When we dissected what we’d found back at the office, we were pleased.  Generally venders had seemed positive about selling dried mango, but many were keen to look (and taste!) samples before the negotiations went any further.  Unfortunately we didn’t have any samples because the mango drying season begins in about a month, but we have the contact details of a large number of interested people, so when dried mango becomes available we can follow up and hopefully find some buyers.  As a result of the research we also came to some further conclusions about how best to sell the mango; for example, packets of 100g (the current size) were seen as too large, and 50g were decided to be better both for buyers and as a competitive advantage for UGF/CDN.  So, now all we need is for the dried mango to be produced and then, hopefully, the organisation can sell their produce in Koudougou.

The weekly activities at the office continued too, although were slightly impeded by the schedules of those who were meant to attend the lessons.  One debutant IT lesson was held though, where the two students learnt to complete basic things on the computer such as how to type on word, and right and left click, building on what they learnt the previous work.  The cultural discussion of the week was on cultural differences which made for an amusing hour or two; the Burkinabe chatted about all the funny things they’ve noticed about British culture – our (mad) love of animals, our plain clothes, the way we nod when listening to someone talking, how we always compliment people (as oppose to the more direct Burkinabe way).  The British volunteers noted the huge variety of noises made by Burkinabes, their smart, colourful way of dressing, how they greet everyone, and always with a handshake (and never a hug).  It was a hilarious and interesting exchange, with the British especially noticing the eccentricities of our love for animals; clothes for animals?!

In terms of more admin-style jobs, we completed a document for the next cohort of volunteers, which they’ll get at their pre-departure (any future volunteers reading this blog post, hello!).  We also had our individual supervisions with Elaine to reflect on how we were finding our experience, and to set goals to be achieved in our last 5 weeks here.

Friday was a bank holiday – Workers’ Day – so we only had a 4 day week, but it was a good one!               

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