This two week mission took place during the second half of October and was joined by Lorrie Vandeginste, Jan Leemans and Lieve Vanrusselt.
Please find below a summary of our activities and achievements:
- Three new employees were hired to be trained in the different parts of our factory during the coming three months. The aim is to offer them full-time employment after their training placement.
- At the same time we have reorganised our operation planning to increase our production output especially in the dairy section (soy milk) and bakery; a new production plan will be put into place soon employing our new personnel to their full potential.
- We were also able to finalise and standardise the recipes of six products made from our locally sourced fruits and vegetables i.e. three jams and three sauces. These products are now being sold in our local sale points in Kisantu as "white" products i.e. with a simple, white label. We are in the process of designing a more luxurious label to sell these products under the brand of "Mon Pays" in Kinshasa in the (hopefully) near future.
- We extended our kiosk with more seating area.
- We looked for and found a second point of sale (a second kiosk!) close to the main road from Kinshasa to Matadi, still in the town of Kisantu. Financials have been secured and refurbishment plans have been agreed. Most of the works should be done when we visit next so that we can open this shop during our next mission.
- On the medical side of the enterprise activities, we have decided to offer a complimentary gift to expecting mothers of the Kisantu area. This gift is meant to work as an incentive for them to come to prenatal appointments at the local hospital St Luc and thereby support our fistula prevention campaign. At the moment expectant mothers are attending the prenatal clinics not frequently enough because of various (mostly practical) reasons and this can lead to unforeseen complications at the moment of labour and to a risk of genital fistula. By offering them a small gift we want to try and increase that number of prenatal checkups. We are thinking of offering them a bar of natural baby soap called "Monsanga", a soap mothers really love according to Dr Ndundu, the gynaecologist at Hospital St Luc.
- We have been making good progress on our incontinence project which we started last April. The nurse at the hospital has provided us with valuable feedback on the materials we have left to her disposal; our washable incontinence pads and briefs seem to have been very well received and patients are very thankful and feel cared for. So we have refilled our stock with new underwear, new reusable pads and nappy cream (this can be used to prevent and heal skin irritation due to incontinence). More reusable pads will be sewn by our seamstress during the coming months so that we are able to maintain a good stock of materials. Self-made laundry soap made from wood ash is being tested in our factory; so far the laundry soap works well and has a pleasant smell. The aim is to teach our patients how to make it and use it to wash their soiled incontinence materials.
- We have tidied up the two rooms where we initially started to make our soy milk years ago. It will be used as an extra stock room as well as an eduction centre on fistula and its prevention, on incontinence care and on subjects related to nutrition. One of the first lessons would be to teach and demonstrate to mothers how to make laundry soap from ash (see above).
- SOLFA has started to support the local football team trained by Dr Ndundu (our gynaecologist from Hospital St Luc) and has given the team new football shirts and good quality second hand boots (collected at home and taken over there in our luggage!). We are planning to team them up with a local Belgian football club so that even more and different necessary materials can be shared in the future.
- We are very excited to arrange the delivery of our car in the next months, which will help us to our products to our second point of sale and further afield. It will also make it easier to drive to schools in the area to sell our nutritious products and to go to Kinshasa to buy necessary ingredients and materials, which before could be a real bottleneck to our activities.
- Our next mission to our social enterprise in Kisantu is planned for 2/3/2019 until 16/3/2019. There is also a medical mission planned for April 2019.