Thursday, May 9, 2013

A man named Innocent and his lumber yard.

Today was another wonderful day. I taught a second Operations case this morning, and had a lot of fun with the students when we had a mini class competition. To articulate the difference between line flow operations and batch process operations, I had two groups come up to the front to represent each process, and compete to see which group could make the most paper airplanes. It was a blast, and the rest of the discussion was another great learning experience for all!

After class, we went to the staffroom to get some work done. It was actually a great workspace, and we met some really great teachers who were lovely to talk to, and who'd like to spend time with us over the next few weeks!
In true academic fashion, one of our objectives here in addition to the teaching, is to write a case study for use in the classroom in future years. Therefore, in the afternoon, we met up with a man named Innocent, who will be the subject of our case. Innocent is truly an inspirational man! He is a mature student, in third year at SFB, but also a Captain in the Army. Above all of that though, he has a lumber yard, and produces high quality furniture on site. He has seen tremendous success in the last few years, and has really neat plans for expansion, using the waste products of his timber to create soundproof premium products for the walls of homes and hotels. He took us to his land, and we were taken aback by the number of workers he has, and the size of his property. We also learned how he gives all of his leftover wood to genocide widows, who are free to use the wood to make whatever products they'd like, using his training workshops and resources for their small businesses. Because they live adjacent to his land, Innocent has also purchased electricity for them, and has funded the restoration of their homes, for more safe living conditions. The highlight of our mini road trip was seeing the shed which houses the husk waste products. We had so much fun running around inside the shed like children, on the squishy piles of husks!
Innocent then took us to his home, and it was beautiful. It really showed us how successful he has been with his business, and he was able to share his plans for converting the adjacent land into a rental property, for use once the roads are paved. This guy really is a kind soul, always looking for ways to enhance the quality of life of those around him. He expressed his intention to develop the premium product industry in Rwanda, and his goal to eventually start exporting such products. Overall, we were floored by his hospitality and humble nature. We're so thrilled to have him on board as the subject of our case, and cannot wait to share the final product with the Ivey community!

On the ride home, we felt like we were on an African roller coaster. We travelled on the bumpiest clay roads for around fifteen minutes, before transitioning to a cobblestone road, and then finally arriving on the paved main road! It was also the first time we really saw poverty, and the kinds of images most people think of when asked to describe Africa. Although the people we saw were poor, they also had the most wonderful smiles I've seen. It's always so moving to see people really enjoy the little moments in life, and to be able to communicate with them with a simple exchange of smiles.
It's been quite the adventurous day, and since there have been a lot of upset stomachs in the house today, we will be heading to town for another nice meal. We unfortunately can't afford to go to the Serena again this week, but hopefully we'll find a more mid-range place to end the day on a good note. :)

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