Sometimes it is easy to decide what to write about in this blog. Other times, particularly when I am focused on time sensitive issues for the Foundation, it is difficult. This is one of those times. In less than one month I am headed back to Africa. Prepping for that trip is time consuming with many moving parts. Some are impossible to manage alone. I am often reliant on the responsiveness and cooperation of the enterprises I am going to visit, the airlines and hotels I am going to book, the embassies I need to interact with to acquire visas and the ground logistics teams I must connect with in order not to find myself stranded somewhere.
With imperfect language skills and frequently questionable cell or internet connectivity losing contact in the field creates a significant challenge and require a little luck if one is to extricate oneself from nowhere to somewhere. Putting together a seamless itinerary packed with key contact information that maximizes my time, minimizes mishaps, yet remains flexible is mandatory. It is more than worthwhile.
The purpose of this trip is twofold. Annually we visit virtually all of our current partners to check in on their progress. Of course, they all provide regular reports on that progress, but seeing the results first-hand informs us in a way no report can. No less important, I will be visiting potential new partners, conducting due diligence that, again, cannot be conveyed in a spreadsheet or glossy presentation. Face to face interaction cannot be undervalued.
So, off we go. Uganda and Kenya are on the itinerary, though I will fly to Rwanda and drive across the border to southwestern Uganda this time saving over 20 hours of transit time from Kampala to Kisoro. I will visit four enterprises while in Uganda over 11 days and seven in Kenya over 17 days. Some places will be familiar. Some brand new. Some accommodations will be pleasant. Others the only choice. Some transit will be smooth. Others not so much. With luck everyone I meet will be engaging. That has been my experience in the past and in spite of the grueling schedule, it is probably the driving force that makes such a trip beyond worthwhile. Even if the Foundation decides not to support a new enterprise I will visit, I am certain I will be informed by the experience. At least, that is what has happened in the past. Reconnecting with those that I have previously met is always delightful. Anticipating new connections no less rewarding.