Visit in December 2008 - Between Progress And Excessive Demand
Finally the electrich lines have reached the VTC. It was thanks to a German, Hans Siemer, who donated the wiring and the transformer, that TANESCO finisched the project, which had started under the pressure of the inauguration ceremony in May.
Another container with equipment for the VTC and even a truck had been sent to Bomangombe by the diocese of Bozen, Italy, and its restless supporter Don Roberto. He also had sent Nino again, the senior expert motor vehicle mechanic, to receive its content and help with the installation. But because of some missing paperwork the container was stopped at the Himo border to Kenia. Nino and a friend of his from Italy were not idle, repairing other equipment, vehicles and machinery of the ALCP. And also some of the equipment of the last container still needed installation.
Looking at the places in the workshop compound where machinery had been installed, I again began to ask questions: about the workflow, the designation of areas etc. Unfortunately Jonas John, the young teacher was away in Mombasa. Daimler has sponsored an educational training in garage management with one of their Importers for Africa, D.T. Dobie. The principal, Samuel Mbunda was away on Christmas holidays already. So none of the experts, who should have been consulted before installing any machinery was there. My discussions with Nino and his friend were difficult because of language problems.
Amongst us foreigners we discussed and designed a suggestion for designating certain areas of the workshop compound and its buildings to certain tasks and designed sort of a work flow for the car repair operations and the teaching and training. But we knew, that it would take a lot more to acquaint Samuel and Jonas to such considerations.
After almost a year of operations, I demanded Fathers Mrema and Beatus to draw conclusions from the experiences gained so far, and think about the economic sustainability of the school. Back home, the financial crisis has struck the supposedly rich economies, and my own capabilities of supporting the building of the school may be threatened. We had to sit down and tried to make something like a bread even analysis for the school. Assumptions had to be made and kind of business plans to be formulated. This is not something missionary priests in Africa are used to do, nor am I knowledgeable about the African circumstances to run a school.
In the end we reached some sort of a projection, which said, that the school could break even, if it had 150 to 180 paying students. This meant that the school would have to grow to reach the theoretical point of self sustainability as soon as possible. We called this the theoretical break even, because the assumption that all students would pay their schoolfees was not exactly what a charitable organisation has in mind, when it builds a school for the needy young people in the region. As well well as the funds for the investments to build the capacity of the school it would need a scholarship fund of some kind to make up for the foreseeable shortcomings in raising schoolfees.