Here are a few elephants, other animals and intresting trees.
Last week I went to Caprivi in the far north east of Namibia to meet with some of the front line staff there. The 14 hour overnight bus journey made me realise the huge distances between towns in this country. I rested up over the weekend and enjoyed a tour of the nearby Mudumu national park where I saw many elephant and various other animals. I was staying in a tent at the IRDNC Sijwa training centre and on Monday the manager explained to me how the Sijwa training centre operates. Then on Tuesday we met with the local finance officer who had come from her office in Katima, 110 km away, to discuss how to record the costs for the different activities on the site and how set charges. I then travelled to Katima with a couple of colleagues and was just in time to enjoy sunset on the banks of the Zambesi. Wednesday morning I worked with the finance officer, Julia, to review all the cash handling processes. There was much good practice and a couple of areas where I was able to recommend improvements.
Lunchtime saw me waiting for another Intercape bus and by mid afternoon I was on my way back to Windhoek. As we sped through the Bwabwata national park there was much excitement on board as the bus slowed to allow 2 elephants to step away from the highway. I managed to put a couple of hours work in on Thursday before returning to my lodgings to crash out after a tiring but very useful few days with field staff.
My day had been full of excitement but, as an inexperienced traveller, I still had more to learn. Before touring Swakopmund, I was looking forward to checking in and freshening up at the guest house I had booked on-line the night before . When I arrived the site appeared securely locked but a handyman was doing some cleaning in the street.
I rang the bell at the pedestrian gate and after a short pause a maid appeared. I said that I had a boooking and she told me that the guest house was closed. The maid then retired inside the building to call the owner, leaving me waiting in the street to contemplate my options. After about 5 minutes the maid returned and told me again that the guest house was closed and the owner was away. I asked the maid to let the owner know that I was extremely disappointed that I had travelled from Windhoek expecting the guest house to be open.
I then left and went in search of alternative accommodation. As short while later I had secured a room at the Sea Breeze Guest House which was very pleasant. Host Bennie also recommened me to the Wreck where I enjoyed a fine meal to round off my day.
Even in this internet age it is best to be able to speak to someone before you travel.
On Friday before visiting Dune 7 I was given the use of a car and after some deliberation decided to go to the coast to Swakopmund. All started well on Saturday with the fuel guage showing a full tank. An hour later it was still showing a full tank and I began to worry. I was between two towns on the Trans Kalahari Highway and as far as I knew 50 km from a petrol station. I prayed and pressed on and trusted that enough fuel had been put in the tank. I was much relieved to fill up at Karibib with 18 litres of fuel proving that the tank had been full when I started. Thank you Karine. (200 km later I noticed for the first time the fuel guage going down .) So a little learning for the motorist. Find out how the equipment in the car works before setting off. I should have thought of this when every time I signalled to turn the windscreen wipers started.
On Thursday we gathered all available directors and key managers to approve changes to the financial system. It was clear before I arrived that changes were needed. The proposals put together over the two weeks I have been in Namibia had involved many key players. However the meeting was not as smooth as I had hoped. On reflection I think I misjudged the human side of things. It soon became clear that while everyone understood the need to make changes a bit more time was needed to make the personal adjustments required. In the end we were not able to go ahead immediately with everything that we thought we might do and there is more work to do to explain how the changes will help. Perhaps we were a bit over ambitious, Petra and her team still have plenty to do and we are setting a sound foundation for future progress.
A lesson for accountants wherever we are. It takes more than logic to make changes. There are always more details to deal with and it takes hearts and minds to succeed.
The founders of IRDNC are still active in persuing their vision and remain trustees. I took the opportunity of getting a photo with them while they were in the office today.
I have just got back from a short trip to Swakopmund. An eventful trip that I must tell you more about later. For now I will just let you know that on Sunday morning I ascended the 50metre high Dune 7 near Walvis Bay. Wading up through the sand was prtter tough but worth it. For those who know my feeling about heights I have included a picture of myself near the top to prove that I did not just bribe someone to take some photos for me.
Tomorrow will bring up two weeks and is a big day for the finance team. The directors will be considering our proposals for management information. Last week began with a review of what we might do with the finance software to create the reports that the directors need. Over the last week we have reviewed the codes that we need and I have been able to create samples based on last year’s accounts and this year’s budget. In the meantime the auditors are in auditing one of IRDNCs major grants. It is very important to us that this goes well and the departing finance manager has been putting in a major effort to make sure the auditors are satisfied.
I have received comments that I have not featured in many photos. So, in order to prove that I am not writing this from my shed in Swindon, I include a photo of me with a strawberry smoothie taken on Sunday at a garden centre. I was not buying plants but it seems that gardeners the world over need to have a drink and a snack before heading back home to plant the new specimens, and who can blame them. Nate Nuulimba and I enjoyed a very pleasant lunch at this garden centre coffee shop.
We went to there for brunch after Sunday worship at All Nations Christian Church. The services are in English and the church is a lively evangelical fellowship. I joined with some 70 worshippers at the 9:00 service and we sung some familiar songs for a while before a lively sermon. This was followed by coffee and a chat in the foyer before Nat and I headed off for brunch. Later we rounded the day off with an anti-clockwise lap of Avis Dam.
On Saturday I visited Windhoek city centre. Here are some of the photos that I took of modern buildings and the few remaining german buildings from the early twentieth century. As you can see there are a lot of street vendors selling souvenirs. The strange array of rocks is a collection of meteorites found in the region of Gibeon.