Hi Yoba fans,
After a somewhat extended silence it is time for an update from my side. The last weeks in Uganda have been, well, surprisingly normal. Living in Uganda for more than 3 months now, we have become so used to the life here that it becomes increasingly hard to imagine life back at home. Does a meal in a decent restaurant seriously cost some 20€ (the monthly wage of manual laborers)? Does it really get colder there than 10°C? While in the beginning we made fun of our Ugandan friends saying that Europe must be paradise because we never have power cuts, I am now starting to think that it is seriously an incredible thing to have a stable electricity supply.
The big influence of (the absence of) electricity on our lives became particularly obvious in the last two weeks. The group of students we live with is currently doing their final exams of the year, and studying through the night is not an uncommon thing. Unfortunately, it is considerably harder to study in the dark. As electricity seldom stays around for an entire night, the students often sit around a candle together, trying to decipher their notes in the flickering light. Some mornings I see students coming out of their rooms at dawn to make use of the first rays of sunshine to study on the lawn, whereas others decree that they simply have to surrender in the face of this force majeure.
While our social life and leisure time has been as routine as it can get in Uganda, work for Yoba has had quite some surprises for us in store recently. Having overcome the infancy problems of our bacterial children in the last months, we naively assumed we could directly proceed to adulthood. Like so many parents, we were pulled back into reality when the puberty of our children began. After having been well-behaving kids for several weeks in a row, the bacteria suddenly started to behave completely irrationally. Staying up for too long and disobeying direct orders were only two of the problems, and the previously successful interventions have proven to be utterly futile. Fortunately, there is also a positive side to puberty: the person (or bacterium) coming out is bigger, stronger, more mature and less susceptible to bad influences in the environment. Consequently, our current task is to harness the new strength of our bacteria. Through our experiments, we have managed to further accelerate their growth (we are now down to 4 hours of fermentation from 12 in the beginning) and reach much higher levels of live bacteria in the final product (PH value of approx. 4.1 in comparison to initial 4.6). On the side, we have been busy preparing the market introduction of the Yoba yoghurt. It is going to be hard to let our children leave to live on their own, but we are confident that they will keep themselves and others in good health.
So after a few exasperating fights with our Yoba children and some nights spent trying to push mathematics down Ahumuzas throat in the candlelight, we are now looking forward to two things: First, our friends coming out of their study-zombie mode and behave like normal students again; and second, our Yoba bacteria leaving behind their pubertal, erratic behavior to emerge as the strong, sensible bacteria we know they can be and that our partners are expecting excitedly.
Greetings from sunny Mukono,