Written by Brittany Leitch

Faces of the Grand Openings: Behind the Scenes

I tried to find a few pictures & portraits of our close-knit community of workers and volunteers who worked tirelessly during the week of & week before the Grand Openings.  They were hardworking, flexible and wonderful staff and volunteers- simply the BEST!  Judging by these photos, you would never know how tired we all were!  I love these people so much!  THANK YOU!  -Special thanks to MC Baraka who provided most of these great pictures- I’m sure it’s obvious which ones were done by the pro..)!

-I haven’t had time to compile ALL the pictures yet, so I hope I didn’t miss anyone (so sorry if I did!)- you all deserve an awesome vacation 😉 !!!
Written by Brittany Leitch

THE GRAND OPENINGS: The COSAD Clinic & Conclusion of all Grand Openings

Saturday afternoon, the final Grand Opening and the culmination of all of our Grand Openings was held at the COSAD Clinic near the Bukoba Airport.  Honorable Lazaro Nyalandu, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, flew into Bukoba for the afternoon to open the COSAD Clinic and conclude the Grand Openings.  Joining him was Bishop Dr. Benson K. Bagonza of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, Mr. Vincent Spera, Dr. Pamela Sawa, Dr. Jessica Baitani, and Dr. Francis Rwebangila, Founder and Managing Director of Kigoma International Health Center & COSAD Clinic Consultant MD.

We enjoyed fantastic performances from The Voice, Abasinga Group, traveling guest choirs, local church choirs, and village choirs in between speeches from our chief and special guests and a delicious lunch.

Each Grand Opening turned out be be far more “Grand” than I could have ever imagined when we started preparations.  I am completely humbled and grateful for each person who came, contributed, worked and supported COSAD through this exciting weekend!  Thank you all!  

A forty-minute rest to re-group before going to greet Hon. Nyalandu at the airport!
Hon. Nyalandu’s airport arrival!
Arrival and speech at the COSAD Clinic Grand Opening.
Dr. Jessica Baitani (left) and Hon. Nyalandu (right)
Pastor Ben addressing the guests at the Clinic.
COSAD Clinic Special Performances!!
Izigo Village Performers
The Voice, from Dar es Salaam
The Final, Grand Opening!

Written by Brittany Leitch

THE GRAND OPENINGS: Friday Concert & Women’s Cooperative Goat Farm- Kiteyagwa

Friday evening, the COSAD Team welcomed Mr. Vincent D. Spera, First Secretary Political and Economic Section Chief from the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam, to Bukoba.  He joined Hon. Amb. Kagasheki and the local community at an evening concert at the COSAD Volunteer house.  We enjoyed great singing and dancing from our local and traveling guest performers!

Saturday morning, Mr. Spera and Dr. Susan McCormick Hadley began the day at Kiteyagwa Primary School where the future Teachers’ Goat Farm will be established as an extension of the Women’s Cooperative Goat Farm.  All of the teachers and a hand-full of students contributed speeches, songs and dances.  We are so excited for this development to really take root!

From right to left: Pastor Ben Swanson, Mr. Vincent Spera, Hon. Amb. Kagasheki, Mr. Smart Baitani.
Special welcome dance!
Mr. Spera addressing the teachers and students.
Dr. Hadley (right) with an excited group!

Written by Brittany Leitch

THE GRAND OPENINGS: Bukoba Business Lounge & Imuka Recording Studio

Friday morning began with an superb gesture of hospitality from Hon. Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki when he hosted a small gathering of COSAD family and friends for breakfast in his home.  At 9:30am choirs and guests began arriving to the COSAD Headquarter Building (which houses the Bukoba Business Lounge and Imuka Recording Studio) eager for the first of several grand events!  Hon. Amb. Kagasheki and Bishop Method Kilaini arrived along with other specials guests, and Pastor Harris Kapiga graciously took centre stage as our highly-anticipated MC!  Several local choir groups from COSAD’s partner villages joined the festivities to preform alongside the traveling artists in-between introductions and special speeches.

The cutting of the ribbon was conducted at 12:00pm, marking the official opening of the COSAD Headquarters, the Bukoba Business Lounge, and the Imuka Recording Studio.  As soon as the ribbon was cut, the Business Lounge filled up!  The conference room hosted the VIP’s as they signed the guest book, the internet lounge catered to several media stations as they charged devices and worked on their computers, and guests could be found resting in the “Young Minds” corner after lunch was served.  All in all, it was a fantastic afternoon at the first of three Grand Openings!

Breakfast at Hon. Amb. Kagasheki’s residence in Bukoba.

Hon. Amb. Kagasheki’s arrival to COSAD HQ’s Grand Openings.
Dr. Sawa’s arrival to COSAD HQ’s Grand Opening.
Bishop Method Kilaini’s arrival to COSAD HQ’s Grand Opening.

Abasinga, an incredible drumming and dancing group Uganda!
The Voice- a fantastic a cappella group from Dar es Salaam.

Heading to cut the ribbon!
Officially OPEN!

Written by Brittany Leitch

Our Two-Week Marathon: Continuing VIP’s | The Day Before the Grand Openings!

The COSAD team was hard at work early Thursday morning arranging details to welcome Hon. Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki to COSAD to view the Social Enterprise Projects.  We were humbled and so grateful that he took time from his busy schedule to attend our openings, and also for his encouragement and attention to the work COSAD is doing in Bukoba.  Immediately after showing Hon. Kagasheki through the projects, we began preparing for the arrival of other important guests and partners.  Dr. Pamela Sawa, Registrar of Public and Private Health Centers at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, is a partner/guest that has also given COSAD her time and energy.  She has been instrumental in assisting COSAD with our clinic’s registration, and insuring the process was done efficiently and completely! 

On Thursday evening, an informal meet & greet was held for the traveling choirs at the COSAD Volunteer House.  The Voice, Imuka, Ngala, and Abasinga gathered together in a fantastic mixing of talent and spirit.  Each choir brought a “teaser” song to the evening events, and left all of us eager to see & hear more!

Hon. Amb. Kagasheki (in black) at the clinic.
Singing in at the Bukoba Business Lounge.
Viewing the Women’s Cooperative Goat Farm.
Pastor Harris Kapiga interviewing Hon. Amb. Kagasheki.
Hon. Amb. Kagasheki welcomed us into his home between viewings!

Dr. Sawa delivering all of the paperwork, signed and completed, for our clinic to be fully registered!
Written by Brittany Leitch

Our Two-Week Marathon: First VIP’s

On Saturday, COSAD had the distinct privilege of hosting Honorable Col. Fabian I. Massawe, the Regional Commissioner of Kagera Region, for the first viewings of the COSAD Social Enterprise Projects before our Grand Openings.  He was also our “first patient” at the clinic, attended by Dr. Jessica Baitani and Nurse Antifona Anthony.  Later that day, COSAD Tanzania board member Geoffrey Ijumba also visited our sites and discussed final plans.  

Two COSAD USA Board Members: Pastor Ben Swanson, Board Chair, and Dr. Susan McCormick Hadley arrived to Bukoba this morning (Tuesday morning) and are resting and recovering from their long journey.  As I write this, we also just welcomed Pastor Harris Kapiga into the house!  It is neat to see things falling into place and people arriving! 

Greetings and Welcoming Honorable Col. Massawe to the clinic by the Baitani’s.

Honorable Col. Massawe as our first clinic patient!
Bukoba Business Lounge showing..

Women’s Cooperative Goat Farm showing.

Geoffrey Ijumba, COSAD Tanzania Board Member, at the Bukoba Buisness Lounge.
The COSAD team after a day of showings

Dr. Hadley and Pastor Ben
Pastors: Harris Kapiga and Ben Swanson

Written by Brittany Leitch

Our Two-Week Marathon: Signs and Assembly

The last week, (or has it been two already?) has basically blurred into a blurry craze of check lists!  COSAD easily had over 50 workers last week working to get things done, and likely more this coming week.  Everyone has been doing a great job, and everything has gone smoothly so far! 

Outside of the excitement of non-stop work day & night, it seems like I have met more people than ever before that are friends and contractors of COSAD in the Bukoba area.  It has really been enjoyable working with everyone!

Artists, music engineers, decorators, caterers, construction workers, painters, ect. have all put in long hours to make this possible.  They have been working hard to finish signs for the Clinic’s interior, set-up for the Bukoba Business Lounge, finishing the recording room for the Imuka Studio, and all the logistics of hosting important guests and community members! 

Here is an update via pictures:

Our sign go-to man, Marley.
Painting the exterior at the COSAD Headquarters. 
Transporting materials to and from different COSAD sites.. in the pouring rain.  :(
Bukoba Business Lounge slowly coming together.
Dan, our recording engineer from Uganda, coordinating and setting up the studio.
Working into the night..

Larger clinic sign ready to be put up!
Bartering in the market about construction work.. 

Taking a quick break at the clinic after inspecting the interior signs.

Excited !!

Written by Brittany Leitch

Our Two-Week Marathon: Bukoba & Dar es Salaam

Preparations continue to be in a constant state of motion!  

A few updates:  Smart Baitani, our director, touched down in Bukoba long enough to start us on last-minute preparations, then traveled to Dar es Salaam to purchase final supplies and meet with several people who are helping COSAD launch its projects.  One of COSAD’s close friends, Rev. Harris Kapiga, offered to host Smart on FM Clouds to talk about COSAD & the Grand Openings, which aired live on Saturday. 

Dr. Jessica Baitani has taken over the final clinic preparations.  Assisting her is Antifona Anthony, my good friend and COSAD Clinic’s Nursing Assistant.  

Construction at the Bukoba Business Lounge is still coming along impressively quickly, though there is still much to be done!  

I have been hearing a lot of positive feedback and excitement from the COSAD & Bukoba community this month, which is really encouraging to us during this busy time!

Written by Brittany Leitch

Our Two-Week Marathon: Preparing for October 3&4 GRAND OPENINGS

Our work at COSAD Tanzania has gone from 10mph to 100mph in just a few days.  Almost one week ago, our director and his family arrived in Bukoba to finish several details for our Social Enterprise Projects’ Grand Openings on October 3rd & 4th.

These Social Enterprise Projects (SE Projects) include the COSAD Women’s Cooperative Goat Farm, the COSAD Clinic, Imuka Recording Lounge, and the Bukoba Business Lounge.  Each project will be run as a local, private business for profit, to support COSAD’s existing programs and goals.  For example, the COSAD Women’s Cooperative Goat Farm raises and breeds the specific breed of goats best suited for milk production, locally.  This means we no longer have to buy and transport the goat from different cities (or countries in some cases), greatly decreasing the cost we once had to raise to give one woman a goat in the One Woman, One Goat (OWOG) program.  Further, the goat farm will be used as a free training facility to easily train women with goats on best-practices and proper care.  The profits from the goat farm (as with all of our SE Projects) will be used to help support COSAD programs like OWOG that used to be solely reliant on donations from the USA to be successful. 

The theories behind the business structure of each SE Project are a big step in striving towards COSAD’s vision of “empowering Tanzanians to become economically independent, one community at a time”.  Of course, theories, planning, and preparation are only the beginning stages of any project, and that is exactly where we are in Bukoba right now: preparing and praying for the success of our SE Projects after our Grand Openings on October 3rd & 4th!

Our Grand Opening will be a two-day event ‘opening’ all four of our SE Projects, and it is meant to serve as a marketing event & open house so our community can connect with the services the clinic, business lounge, and recording studio will provide.  Our women and village partners will be a huge part of the Grand Openings, and rightly so.  Since my visit in 2012, I have been hearing how anxious and ready the women are to see further growth that will help their communities; especially in regards to the opening of the clinic.  The Grand Openings ceremony will be in line with the Tanzanian cultural expectations for such an ceremony- meaning lots of singing, dancing, food, and speeches!  (I will post pictures!)

For those of you who would like to know more about each SE Project and how it will affect and contribute to the mission of COSAD, I will follow up with more details in my coming posts.  For now, I wanted to highlight the basics for our Grand Openings, and invite you to celebrate with us since they are a major source of excitement and celebration within the COSAD Tanzania community this month!  

Check out some of our preparations in pictures:

COSAD House: Unloading the last batch of supplies from the container to transport to the clinic.
Clinic: painting & restoration.

Clinic: Rearranging and organizing additional supplies.

Clinic: Jeremy, a COSAD USA board member, viewing all SE Projects before Grand Openings.

Signs: Several more in the making!
Bukoba Business Lounge: This is also where the Imuka Recording Studio will be.

Bukoba Business Lounge/ Imuka Recording Studio:  A complete interior over-haul!  Tiles being hauled in for instillation. 

Monica: COSAD office staff & “Community Relations Specialist” in downtown Bukoba delivering invitations to local businesses.

COSAD House: Finishing grounds work.