I’ve been here in Nairobi for 2 months now on my PULSE assignment with AMREF, and things are kicking in to high gear. Right now, it is budget planning time for the new fiscal year, which runs from October through September at AMREF. For the coming year, I have the honors of receiving all of the spreadsheet budgets from all of our offices in Africa, North America, and Europe. I also created a program that consolidates the budgets by country, and rolling them up into an overall budget that senior management will look at next week, and the board of directors will review for approval next month. It’s not as easy at it sounds to make all of this happen. Everyone was supposed to use a standard format for their spreadsheets, but somehow that did not happen.
Our largest country office was over a week late sending me their budgets for 50 different cost centers, and when I finally received them they were using a different format than everyone else. With a deadline coming up in less than a week, it was time as my former boss used to say, to pull a rabbit out of the hat and pull all of this together. The rabbit turned out to be some queries in Microsoft Access where I was able to reformat these 50 budgets into the same format all of the other budgets. Now all of the budgets were in the same format, and could now be rolled up into 1 overall budget. Senior management will now be able to analyze this budget in many different ways before they present it to the board of directors.
One of the other things that I am working on right now is planning out a schedule for a new information management system that is due in the beginning of October. The can be no “Africa Time” for completing this project since I have to train people on how to use this system in 4 different countries before December. For all of October and part of November I will be training people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania on how to use this new information management system. I’ve never had to teach a class before so this will be interesting.
Even though there is much to do on my PULSE assignment, there is some time to explore Kenya. The other week I had an unexpected day off so our Muslim friends could celebrate the end of Ramadan. I used this day to travel outside of Nairobi and visited Hells Gate National Park in the Rift Valley. Once there, we rented some bikes and cycled 8 kilometers from the park gate to the gorge. You may think that 8 kilometers is not that far, but when you have a 10 speed bike that will only go 1 speed along a dirt, gravel, and sometimes a sand road it can be quite a challenge. I only fell off the bike once when the road turned to sand on me. Along the way, I did see many zebras, gazelles, impala, warthogs, and water buffalo. After we cycled the 8 kilometers, we hiked through the gorge at Hells Gate where you can see great rock formations and water coming up out of the earth that is almost 100 degrees Celsius. After spending over 2 hours hiking through the gorge it was time to take the 8 kilometer bike ride back to the park entrance. It was definitely a workout. I can now say that I have been to hell and back after that day.