The final installment of Ben’s trip to Kenya…at least until the new year!
The last 2 days have been an explosion of activity, testing nerves, cursing missed details, but ultimately of things taking shape in just the way they ought.
Oven, mixer, laminator and proving cupboard arrived from Kisumu on Lake Victoria a few hours behind schedule affording Redempta and I plenty of time to pick up the storage shelf we had had made up, along with managing to arrange for a lorry mounted with a crane to accompany us to Maili saba to transfer the oven into the bakehouse.
Our convoy hit the road, Red and I, the crane, a car load of electricians and a big lorry with the gear.
When we met them in town, prior to setting off I explained how bumpy the approach road is and checked the oven was securely tied down. I was assured it was packed in as best it could. Now keep this in mind, it’s a detail the becomes relevant later on.
So finally we arrive on site, the great camera team from Unit 9 waiting patiently filming our approach.
Eager to cast eyes on the new toys I’m at the front of the queue to pull the tarp off the lorry. Sad Face. Oven has fallen over, sides have rattled off, big dent on front, proving cupboard smashed, mixer bearing the weight.
Great ingenuity sees the oven righted, winched out, hoisted up and swung onto the veranda of the Ujima bakehouse. Yes, Ujima has a veranda. Dusk has fallen by this time and we agree to recommence for connecting the following day.
From the outset 3 phase power was a requirement for the oven and mixer and I had been assured us on several occasions that an electrician had brought 3 phase to the bakehouse. Unfortunately the installation team spotted what I should have noticed, the cable diameters leading into the building are way too small for 3 phase, it hasn’t been installed. But where there’s a will…. and in the late morning an electrical wholesaler was contacted in nairobi and 30 metres of 18mm armoured cable was sent to Nakuru on a bus.
Justin and I had spent the day washing off 30 years of bakery grime and dust from the equipment, and so now, with the cable on site we may be on track to do a test bake tomorrow in time for our planned market day on Friday in Nakuru.
It’s Saturday and I have my bag packed and a series of farewells ahead of me.
Yesterday the training session was completed and the assembled received their certificates in front of a group who were at Maili Saba for a training and team building day. They made for a nice group to offer tasters and receive feedback.
I don’t know if Redempta and the camera crew are carefully orchestrating everything, or things just have a way of turning out magically, because yesterday everything seemed to fall into place.
The day before had been a disaster. I had spent all day attempting to find out if the electricians were coming to finish connecting the system up, and then finally at 4 p.m. Red arrived with them.
The trainees, Dorothy, Jedidha, Alfonse and Betty arrived early on, but we didn’t have much to do, and I was fairly bummed out. But what that meant was that we had loads of time to hang out and get to know one another. They’re an amazing group!
We talked about how the bakehouse may work, their fears that our ideas may be stolen, the dangers of baboons and ankle biting hyrax. We prepared a speech, and revised the enzymatic conversion of starches to sugars in a dough. We baked off a few remaining loaves we had retarded in the fridge and set out the table for sampling.
Whilst all this was going on the electricians were busy trying to connect up the oven, it seemed it wasn’t going to work but finally good news, 2 of the 4 decks were working as was the dough mixer.
Finally, as the sun set we concluded our activities. All being well I will head back out In January in order to attempt larger scale production in the bakehouse and link up with some suppliers.
Below is an image of the mighty new bakehouse oven being delivered.