So the event today was truly celebratory. Production manager, Gervais KAYITARE, was the master of protocol, introducing the order of events. He started it with a welcome from the President of the cooperative, Evariste TWAKIRE and an overview of the training by the washing station manager, Frederic HAKIZIMANA. A representative of the local government also welcomed the group of about 60 employees and their spouses and some children.
The attendees were divided up into four groups to tour the washing station by visiting 4 stations. At each station, a group of employees described the KAIZEN event they had planned and implemented. They shared the actions they took and the results, often pointing to new signage and new written metrics they are keeping in notebooks. The four KAIZEN groups, each with 3 - 4 employees, were:
1. Cherry reception - sensitizing the farmers and collectors about quality
2. Depulping area - improve safety.
3. Washing and grading - conserve water/use more efficiently
4. Pre-drying area - improve organization
[See photos at each station below.]
After the tour, everyone re-assembled in the storeroom-turned-auditorium, and the dancing began! This is the beautiful tradition in Rwanda, of having a professional dance/drum/singing group perform to give thanks and share happiness at any good event. Their expressiveness through music, turning, twisting and stamping is amazing!
Besides celebrating the start of something new, there was a second important reason for the Open House. It gave the employees a chance to be leaders and to "shine" in front of the people who mean the most to them -- their family, their co-workers and the leaders of the cooperative. It also put a spotlight on the work that they do, giving those jobs importance and meaning that may have been uncertain or at least questioned prior to the training.
There were bright smiles as the employees received their certificates. I read their names and Eric NSHYIMIMANA helped tremendously with translation and general organization. The local official (name?!) passed out the certificates and the president, Mr. TWAKIRE, and the manager, Mr. HAKIZIMANA were also in line to shake each individual's hand.
After the formal part of the festivities concluded, the participants all enjoyed a small lunch prepared by a local caterer. Then they played modern pop songs on the sound system and continued to celebrate with dance and conversation. There were a few beers consumed as well!
|Participants starting the tour by walking to one of the four presentation "stops".|
|Josias describes the results of the KAIZEN focused on quality sensitization of farmers and collectors.|
|Gervais describes the safety improvements in the machine/depulping area.|
|Walking to the depulping area.|
|Isa presents the activities and results in the washing and grading area.|