August 21, 2019 (Last Day!)

Our last day in Makeni was emotional but successful.

 

Yesterday, we finished collecting data for our last pudding recipe, leaving us with around 180 data points and 3 different recipes for the pudding! Today, Kayla, Neena, Karli, and our translators went to the last village- Makama, to collect data on the last muffin recipe. We received around 200 data points on 5 different muffin recipes throughout the trip! We were able to surpass our goal of 150 surveys very easily.

In the next few weeks/months, there is a lot of work to be done to analyze the data, write a paper on our experience, and apply for funding for the next stages of our venture. We expect our product to be sold in the market setting.

 

We said goodbye to our friends at World Hope and had an emotional last dinner at Mabinti’s with our translators- Yakuba, Ibrahim, and Abubakkar. We also had the first ever GSIF talent show where Chris represented our team very well 🙂

All in all, our team had a very successful fieldwork experience. We not only were able to surpass our interview goal, but we also were able to grow as a team. We were faced with what seemed like endless obstacles, but all of our team members stepped up each and every time. We are excited to recap our success to Professor Herz and Professor Pinter, and plan the next steps of our project. In the meantime, we can’t wait to get to the beach and the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Freetown.

This is NewTrition signing off until the fall semester! Thanks for keeping up with our team!

 

August 14, 2019

August 14, 2019

This morning, we baked our muffins and pudding at the Betteh Bakery. Alex and Thuimu roasted/boiled our sweet potatoes and cooked our muffins in the oven.

 

As Kayla mentioned yesterday, we learned a lot from our data collection and were able to implement what we learned in our interviews today. We continued running taste tests with our initial recipe. Starting tomorrow, we will be changing our recipe slightly to see if their is any difference in how mothers and children like it.

We edited our questionnaire to ask more concise and relevant questions based on the feedback we got yesterday. We could not use our initial data from yesterday morning because of overcrowding. Mothers that were being interviewed would listen to the opinions of other mothers around them, instead of giving us their own ideas. This was a flaw in our data collection that we have since fixed. Now, mothers and children being interviewed will be separated from those that are waiting in line (Pictures to come when we get a stronger internet connection!). We also refocused our research to consider funding proposal and future paper outlines in each of the interviews that we do.

 

Before we conducted interviews this morning, Jawara helped us get two new translators- Abubakarr and Ibrahim. Yesterday, a lot of the mothers that tried our food said the foods were “fine,” but didn’t give us enough information on the taste, texture, or what they would change. We sat with Abubakarr and Ibrahim to communicate how important it is that the mothers convey all their thoughts with us. If we want our product to be successful in Makeni in the future, mothers and children need to enjoy it and be willing to purchase it for their child. Both of them were very understanding of this and really took interest in our products. Each member of our team noticed a difference in the interviews today thanks to Abubakarr and Ibrahim. We were able to get lots of information from mothers. Our interviews were held at the World Hope compound, in a similar manner to yesterday, but we had a much smaller turnout. Momoh helped us invite mothers back to the compound, but he informed us that many of them did not have the time or money to travel to World Hope even if they realized how important our research is. At this point, we have 30 total data points, so we have to continue to get as many successful interviews done as possible.

(Mothers feeding the pudding to their children)

A few days ago, we assigned team roles so everyone is responsible for a different aspect of the project, and I think it has really helped our team come together. Each person has really grown into their role, and each of us and Khanjan has noticed that our team has become more productive and adaptive to changing plans. Even when we were hit with another setback today, we regrouped and devised a plan for each day until Sunday to make up for the small turnout at World Hope. Even still, it was very frustrating that yet again we couldn’t get the data we needed. Matt said it best when sharing his insight tonight; we have learned that it’s always important to have a plan A, B, and C in order to get the data we need. Our team has a goal of reaching 150 successful surveys for each of our two foods before the end of the trip. Over the past 24 hours, we have only been able to get around 14 and 16 surveys for the pudding and muffin, respectively. Over the next few days, we will need to work extremely hard and take advantage of all the time we have left. Luckily, our contacts at the Wesleyan Church, our translators, interns, and employees at World Hope continue to be great resources.

 

We are continuing to enjoy our time in Makeni and have really grown to appreciate each of the people we work with. Everyone at World Hope has been extremely willing to drop everything and help us advance our project. We have also loved the chance to get to hear about the success of the other GSIF teams and their projects. We are eager to see what the next week will bring!

August 7, 2019

August 7, 2019

This morning we started training at the Betteh Bakery at 9am. We were welcomed by the trainees with a song (IMG_3235)! They reviewed the first two days of their training where they learned proper hygiene and how to use the machines in the bakery.

The bakery is run by the Wesleyan Church, with Katis Bangura as the Project Manager. Katis and Councilor Ismail Mugun Bangura stressed that they want to empower women at the bakery while also providing quality bread to the people of Makeni. Catherine, the Betteh Bakery manager, also said that while she knows Sierra Leone has been behind other countries in terms of women empowerment, she’s excited to make a change as a leader of the project.

(Seanna Corr with Catherine Kouroma, Bakery Manager)

The machine the trainees learned to operate is used to compress and mix the bread dough before putting it in the oven. A mechanic in Sierra Leone constructed the machine with a diesel engine operated by a crank and parts from an old Mercedes Benz car. The engine and crack turned a fan belt which turned the large rolling pin on the dough machine. We used a flour and water mixture to practice using the machine and learn different bread shapes.

(Dough machine)

(Photo of a bakery trainee after getting the diesel engine to run after 3 attempts!)

(Mixture of flour and water that were used to practice using the dough machine and kneading the dough into shapes for the oven)

(Neena Shah and Karli Manko learning the proper ways to prep the dough for the oven)

The trainees learned four different bread recipes that they plan to cook in the bakery. The first two were taught by Alexzandra (Alex) Pee. Alex is from Freetown, Sierra Leone and has over 25 years of baking experience.

The first recipe he gave was for Tappler (pronounced “Tapalapa”), a popular bread in Makeni. The bread is not preserved well, but would be sold in small quantities each day. The recipe calls for:

  • 1 bag of flour
  • salt
  • 1 tablet/baromate per bag of flour (for fermentation- crushed and dissolved in water)
  • yeast

The second recipe was for Butter Bread, which is more expensive, but the bakery managers believe it will be profitable. In Freetown, this bread would be sold for 5,000 Le, which is around 0.50 USD. Most breads, including Tappler, are sold for 1,000-2,000 Le in Makeni. The bakery managers want to sell Butter Bread in smaller sizes so more people can afford it. Betteh Bakery will be the first bakery in all of Makeni to bake this type of bread. The recipe includes:

  • 1 bag of flour
  • salt (less than the first recipe)
  • 1 tablet per bag of flour
  • yeast
  • butter
  • nutmeg
  • sugar

The last two recipes were presented by Thuimu Bangura, a younger bakery trainee with more baking experience than the rest.

The third recipe was for Ghana Bread, which calls for:

  • 1 bag of flour
  • sugar
  • salt
  • butter
  • yeast
  • milk
  • eggs
  • nutmeg
  • flavoring (banana, pineapple, coconut)

Unlike the other bread recipes, Ghana bread is cooked in a small bread pan. The others are baked on something similar to a cookie sheet.

The last recipe Thuimu presented was for Sugar Bread. The recipe includes:

  • flour
  • sugar
  • yeast
  • milk
  • salt
  • butter

Each recipe is fairly different, but the Betteh Bakery is excited to try each of them. Tomorrow (August 8), we will spend the day baking and perfecting each recipe with the trainees. The bakery will become fully operational on Monday, August 12, and will only sell Tappler for the first month or so. They plan to sell one piece of bread for 1,000-2,000 Le and to start small but expand later.

 

Throughout the day, we were introduced to Pastors and Reverends at the Wesleyan Church, and everyone was extremely welcoming and happy to have us. At the end of the day, Alex, Ismail, and Katis encouraged us to share what we learned and loved hearing that the marketing strategies for our products aligned with theirs.

 

Today was our rainiest day yet, but we were able to get lots of things accomplished. Our team is excited to return to the bakery tomorrow to try out the recipes! Some of us will also have the opportunity to visit a few health clinics to build connections with mothers and children that can taste our products next week.

(Pastries given to the team as a welcoming gift from Catherine Bangura)

(Matt Feryo, Seanna Corr, and Rachel Caffrey took a short, but rainy, trip to dinner in the back of a pick-up truck!)

August 5, 2019

August 5, 2019

Our first full day in Sierra Leone!

Our day began with a brief tour of the facilities here at World Hope International, our primary partners in-country. A World Hope employee, named Musa, then took us to the bakery that was recently completed on the grounds. The bakery, Betteh Bakery was just recently completed and workers are going through training before the facility becomes functional. Primarily built for the purpose of making bread, the facility’s oven (pictured below) will be perfect for cooking our muffins and potentially dehydrating ingredients for the bouillon cube. Most of the other equipment inside would not be necessary for the project.

Following our visit to the Betteh bakery, we travelled to a facility overseen by Musa where disabled workers work on various crafts including: metalwork, woodwork, and farming of cassava, ground nuts, ginger, and development of cornflower and palm oil. This was important insight for both of the malnutrition groups, as it showed us that most of our ingredients are readily available. We also came across a possible new ingredient. The moringa leave is very common here in Sierra Leone and is believed to be one of the next superfoods. The leaves are high in both Iron and Vitamin A. The leaves can be ground down to a flower and perhaps mixed into our products. While there, Musa, who oversees social ventures at World Hope, explained that he has the resources to set us up with suppliers for a lot of the ingredients our recipes use, which answered a lot of our supply chain questions very early.

Finally after returning from the visit, we went downtown to explore the markets.

Once again our ingredients were confirmed to be available in the markets. We received our money towards the end of the day and plan to figure out the cost of the ingredients most likely tomorrow. We also travelled to a supermarket to see the price of certain ingredients that we were thinking about incorporating into our recipes. For example, we looked into using coconut milk as a base for the pudding product. As expected, the prices were too steep to include in the products.

All in all, we had an extremely productive first day here. In Khanjan’s words, we really “hit the ground running” and are excited to keep moving forward during the next few days.

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