I’ve just come from my first bookkeeping class. I didn’t teach it, Christian did. Johanna taught Christian and Ronald, two staff members from Heart of Africa Mission, basic bookkeeping. She not only taught them to keep good books, but also imparted good business sense.
Along with the loan for fritters, we offered to teach bookkeeping to Mama Phiri. One student grew to five and maybe more. We asked Christian to instruct the class, knowing that teaching what you have learned deepens your own understanding.
Johanna would be proud of him. He taught in Bemba, but I understood enough of what was going on to know he did a good job of covering the basis. I could also see that his students understood.
Because Christian used the vernacular, they caught on much quicker than if I would have used my Canadian English. Most of the students have a limited understanding of English and are not used to sitting in school. They are so eager to learn.
One of the first questions Christian asked the class was how to separate yourself from the business. One woman said it was difficult; she often used the business money to buy food or other things.
Mama Phiri proudly gave her answer. She told about how Johanna taught her to put the fritter money into jars — one to buy new supplies, one to pay back the loan and the other was her profit.
That was also exciting. We taught something that someone is using, and passing on. Sometimes it’s that simple to make a difference. Later I walked by her house and she was fiercely scolding another woman for not coming to the class. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that woman here next week. Mama Phiri is the matron around here.
When Mate, the Bukuumo chairman, heard I was teaching bookkeeping, he asked me to teach him as well. Maybe we should offer a few sessions to the co-operative members. It’s not just about keeping books, but also talking about business principles. It’s capacity building.
Robert is at mission every day on a building project. One of his bricklayers, Richard, is a cheerful and capable worker with a strong upper body. He walks with an obvious waddle. His legs are abnormally shaped, Robert tells me, but he walks two hours every morning to get here. Robert picks him up whenever he sees him on the road.