Thursday, July 2, 2009

We're still in the honey business...

Two weeks before we were due to drive south for our break, the Ik started bringing us honey again. At first, we were just going to use it for private consumption...but the honey kept coming. It's not even the season to harvest but the Ik were wanting to get rid of the honey they kept stored so they could harvest new honey in the next couple of months. We eventually ended up with 78 liters of honey. Right now, the way the process works is that we personally buy honey from the Ik sellers and then put the honey in big blue buckets. If the honey is light, we separate it from the wax and put it into a special bucket. If the honey is dark, we put wax and all into one bucket. We then load the buckets either in our vehicle or onto a truck heading south. This time around, we only had three buckets, so we took it to Malaika's offices ourselves. Malaika will then pay us for the honey (the same amount we paid the Ik) and exchange the full buckets for empty ones. This whole process works right now, but we hope that eventually the Ik will be able to trust each other enough to put a couple of men in charge of getting their honey to Malaika themselves. The drive to Malaika offices (in Kampala) is currently about 12 hours from where the Ik live and very difficult. The only options for transporting from Timu are personal vehicles (such as ours) and trucks who pass through for other business purposes. Most likely, the Ik man would have to transfer the buckets of honey between several vehicles on the way to Kampala. They would have to take records of who gave them honey and pay people when they've returned home from Malaika. They would also have to consider transportation costs and deduct it from the amount given for the honey. One problem they face is that one person may have an immediate financial need and they'll use other people's money to meet that need. If Malaika gave an Ik man the payment for the honey and the Ik man had a sudden need to spend the money, the other Ik would not get paid for their honey. They don't like when this happens.

  • We pray that God will give us wisdom and insight in how to handle/adjust this process to make it work for the Ik.
  • We pray that we'll find trustworthy men to take charge of the business.
  • We also pray that the roads will be repaired to make travel easier and the process of transporting smoother.


Kelsey and Travis said...

That honey looks delicious!!!! Hope y'all are having a good time in Entebbe, Kampala and Kenya.

NotintheWild said...

What you need to tell the Ik is,
BEE kind one to another

Tammy On the Go said...

our friends are on their way to you, wish I could have come

SMS said...

Hi there!!! You don't know me but I know you. I am Larry and Mary's daughter in law.. and they sent us the link to your blog. Please tell them we love them and can't wait to hear all about your visit! LOVE your blog!! Blessings to you two! Hope you have a wonderful break and time of rest and spiritual renewal!

andrewed said...

Well, I'm sure I don't know what traditional Ik gender roles would be or the obstacles of traveling. But I can imagine that if women rather than men were in charge of delivering the honey, payment to the producers back home would tend to come more reliably.

If that's not possible, perhaps the thing would be to have a small co-op, so that people's existing bonds and obligations to one another are what keep people in mind of each when making decisions on the road about money they've collected. The principles of group-obligation and sociality that lie behind the massive success of micro-financing (eg, the Grameen Bank of India, whose founder, Mohammed Yunis, won the Nobel Peace Prize) may prove useful to you in this situation or lead you to other ideas that would be. See

Another source of help may be in The Hunger Project which I found through of Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai.