My first week or so, plus a Q&A with the Big Boss Man

With the fun of the weekend over with, it was time to start the serious work and the main reason why I was here in Botswana in the first place.  To assist the team at SEDYEA to improve and build capacity within the finance function.

My initial couple of days were spent meeting the key personnel at SEDYEA, understanding more of the operation and what they do, why they do it and the way things work.

Due to the nature of the work I am here to do, the majority of my time working at SEDYEA has been spent sharing an office with and working closely with Mr Didi Pikashe, the Head Of Operations which includes responsibility for the finance function.  You will hear more from Didi next time when he becomes the second of the SEDYEA management team to answer my investigative ‘get to know them a bit better’ Q&A.  Luckily for me, the atmosphere in the office is great as Didi is a really chilled out and overall nice guy who humours me a lot.  At least I think he’s humouring me, he might just be laughing at me!

Didi trying to hide from the camera
Didi trying to hide from the camera…..


My desk!
My desk!

Once the introductions had been done it was time to review where Steve (the first UK based finance volunteer at SEDYEA through AfID (I am the second) who had been here for 8 weeks himself and had left just two weeks beforehand) had got up to, work out what else I could possibly help them with and then prioritise the work that needed to be done first.

I also went on a visit to the local council offices for introductions to them. The council work closely with SEDYEA and have been assisting in the improvement of the finance function by providing guidance as well as previously performing an internal audit which highlighted some issues which had formed a significant part of the finance manual Steve had worked very hard to produce.

My main priorities (after finding out what night of the week the staff play football – Monday but more on that later) were three fold – review and ensure that SEDYEA were following the guidelines in the finance manual, review the paperwork to ensure that those previously completed would pass an audit (and correct where necessary) as well as develop their current level of financial reporting. Enough to keep myself and Didi busy for a good while!

And with that my first week was over, it had flown by! Didi kindly offered to take me to watch the Zebras play which I was looking forward to.  The Zebras aren’t the stripy animals you are probably thinking of, no it is the nickname of the Botswana national football team, who had an African Cup of Nations qualifying match at home to Egypt at the National Stadium in the Capital, Gaborone.  As one of a crowd of around 30,000 passionate home fans, it turned out to be a difficult match for the Zebras against a good Egypt team, with the decision making and final ball in the last third of the pitch letting them down, leading to a two nil defeat and a win for Egypt.  However, it was still a good evening and wonderful to attend my first ever football match on the African continent.

Didi, my guide for the game
Didi, my local expert for the game


My first game of football in Africa!
My first game of football in Africa!

The rest of my weekend was spent relaxing (I was enjoying getting back into reading and read a lot) and still getting used to things and then before I knew it, the weekend was over and it was back to work.

The plan for my second week was to continue working on the three main priorities with Didi, and we have been making good progress with following the finance manual, getting the paperwork at the correct level, and developing the reporting for one of the programmes.

Before I knew it, it was Monday night football but not the Sky Sports version I have watched for many years, it was the SEDYEA version which is when the staff play alongside some of the local youngsters.  It was a 5-a-side team tournament format with a winner stays on policy. My fabulous team had a great start with a good number of victories in a row before tiredness (at least on my part – which was partially through the heat but mostly through old age and a lack of fitness which resulted in me spending more time in goal towards the end!).  I hadn’t lost my football skill in the mind but my feet just wouldn’t do what my mind was telling them!  However, it was great fun and excellent to see so many young people with smiles on their faces and enjoying playing football.  I’m already looking forward to next week’s game!

Kitso gets tackled by a small child
Kitso gets tackled by a small child
Another action shot
Another action shot!

I did take some time out to start the first part of my SEDYEA management team Q&A to help you get to know some of the people I am working alongside a little better.  First up in this series was the Executive Director or Big Boss Man of SEDYEA (and also my housemate), Mr Kitso Masi:

Kitso hard at work
Kitso hard at work
  • Favourite football team?
    • Two, the Ramotswa Atlantic Swallows and South East Girls United [the girls team from SEDYEA and he also follows Arsenal in the EPL]
  • Best thing about working for SEDYEA?
    • Coming into work to see the kids, their faces, the friendships that develop and letting them know we are here for them and seeing them come back time after time and be free to interact with the staff members
  • How old are you?
    • 29
  • Favourite food?
    • Meat with dumplings
  • Celebrity Crush?
    • Halle Berry
  • Favourite movie?
    • Indecent Proposal and most Denzel Washington movies
  • Proudest moment?
    • In 2009 whilst working on a reality television show, I was working with a 19 year old mother who had lost both her parents, was HIV+, had lost her ID card, who could not breast feed and due to not having an ID card she could not get access to by baby formula. I worked with her, helped her to get an ID card through the government office and the thank you she gave for my help will be a moment I will never forget.
  • Favourite book?
    • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho [great choice, it is mine too]
  • Favourite drink?
    • Coca-Cola
  • Biggest aspiration?
    • Live, be happy and make a difference to other people’s lives
  • Favourite colour?
    • White
  • Chocolate or beer?
    • Beer
  • Favourite song?
    • Bob Marley – Pimpers paradise
  • If someone were to make a movie about your life, who would you hope would play you?
    • Denzel Washington
  • Who’s the funniest person you know?
    • My late friend Malau, he could make you laugh even when you didn’t want to.
  • Tea or coffee?
    • Tea
  • Favourite TV programme?
    • Generation
  • Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
    • My late Grandmother
  • What scares you?
    • Cats
  • If you could change one rule in football, what would it be?
    • TV replays to improve referees decisions – there is too much riding on one man’s decisions
  • Would you prefer to fight one horse sized duck or 12 duck sized horses?
    • The one horse sized duck – 12 is too many to concentrate on
  • Who was the last person you hugged?
    • A friend of mine…… [he refused to name them – very intriguing!]
  • What is your favourite season?
    • Spring – the weather is the nicest and the environment looks beautiful
  • Would you rather be hated or forgotten?
    • Hated – that’s testimony that I existed

Thanks to Kitso for spending the time answering my slightly random questions.

I have also been joined this week by three other volunteers from the UK – Natalie, Nick and Matt who are over here in Ramotswa for around 8 weeks working on the programme side assisting with the coaching and teaching of the youngsters. More about them in my next Blog update……

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