So many stories to tell, pictures to show and experiences to share. We spent spent 48 hours in Huambo, spread over three days. We saw the seed and fertilizer project that the Rotary Club of Luanda in District 9350 and 34 clubs from District 5230 in California made possible.

We arrived in Huambo province just before noon on Wednesday, 17 June 2009, after a quick flight from Luanda. Huambo is the second largest city in Angola, located in the central highlands at about 1,800 meters (5,500 feet) of elevation.

We arrive in Huambo. Left to Right: PDG Nina Clancy (RC Visalia County Center, D-5230), WorldVision Rotary liason Kim Lorenz (RC Seattle), Dustin Koobatian, Florinda Carneiro (RC Luanda, D-9350), and Kristin Pires (RC Tulare Sunrise, D-5230).

Our delegation was comprised of six Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Luanda, District 9350 (including John Yale, World Vision's country director in Angola), four Rotarians from three clubs in District 5230 in California, and several World Vision staff members. Kim Lorenz, a member of the Rotary Club of Seattle, is on World Vision's staff and serves full time as their liaison with Rotary.

Our first stop was a meeting with Ex.ª Senhora Lotii Nolika, the vice governor of Huambo province. Her first question was "why only certain communities?" President Manuel explained that potatoes -- the chosen crop for our project -- need water, which means that only villages where gravity-fed irrigation is possible can take part in our current project.

President Manuel Correia and President Elect Manuel de Sousa (RC Luanda, D-9350) brief Ex.ª Senhora Lotii Nolika, vice governor of Huambo Province, on our project.

The vice governor was also concerned about logistics, saying that transportation to Luanda, the primary market for the crop, is difficult. She wanted to know what we're doing about that problem. He explained that others are working on transporation solutions, and we are focused on improving production by improving the quality of the seed. Better seed means higher and more consistent yields, and more predictability in getting a crop to market. Making the crop more predictable also helps ease the transporation problem, because associations and cooperatives can make arrangements well in advance of need.

Right now, the only way to move the produce the 600 kilometers (about 400 miles) to Luanda is by truck. The road is constantly being worked on -- Portuguese and Brazilian companies have made considerable improvements -- but it is still a difficult drive. The real answer should come next year, when railroad service is scheduled to resume between Huambo and the coast.

Dinner back at the hotel. In the foreground are Jonathan White, operations director for World Vision Angola, and Steve Koobatian (RC Visalia County Center, D-5230)

Our next stop was a quick check in at our hotel, and then we went into the field. Those pictures and stories – the real purpose of our trip – will be posted soon.

President Manuel, PDG Nina and President Elect Manuel departing Huambo

We were in Huambo about half a day on Wednesday (17 June 2009) and Friday (19 June 2009), and a full day on Thursday (18 June 2009), going from early morning to well after dark each nights.

Nina, Steve Koobatian and Dustin flew back to Luanda on Friday. They were joined by Florinda Carneiro, PN Arlete de Sousa, PE Manuel de Sousa and John Yale from the Rotary Club of Luanda. President Manuel Correia stayed on in Huambo. He is originally from there and does business there regularly.

Rosalino Neto from the Luanda club, Kristin Pires from RC Tulare Sunrise and Steve Blum, RC Monterey Pacific chose to drive back to Luanda. The trip took about nine hours and went through some spectacular scenery.

The 600 kilometers between Huambo and Luanda has amazing views

The Kwanza River serves Luanda with hydroelectric power, and provides a source of water for drinking, washing, transportation and waste disposal, a common situation in the developing world and the reason Rotary focuses so intently on water projects


John Yale (RC Luanda, D-9350), World Vision country director for Angola, Nina Clancy and Steve Koobatian at the World Vision office in Luanda


Steve K, Kristin and PDG Nina at the Luanda airport, heading home on Saturday, 20 June 2009
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We spent a last, fun night in Luanda, then headed for the airport about 30 hours ago. Long wait there for a quick flight to Joburg, where Kristin Pires stopped over to see friends. She'll be flying out tonight, and then going on to Germany.

Nina Clancy, Steve and Dustin Koobatian and I continued on to London. Fine flight on Virgin Atlantic, and smooth sailing when we hit the ground. Steve and Dustin were met by friends from California at Heathrow, and they'll be staying on in London.

Nina and I took the bus to Birmingham. I jumped off at the National Exhibition Centre, which is where the Rotary International convention is going on right now. Nina continued on to central Birmingham, where Mike is waiting to meet her.

Lots of great stories to tell about Angola, a ton of great pictures and videos. I'll start posting pictures, I hope, tonight (I'm looking for a pub with WiFi -- I wonder if such a thing exists?).
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We leave for the Luanda airport in a few minutes, but I've finally managed a usable Internet connection for a few minutes at least. Pictures and all the stories we have to tell will have to wait for when we get to London tomorrow morning, although time permitting we might be able to post from Johannesburg, when we change planes there this evening.

We'll all well, tummy trouble not withstanding. Kristin Pires and I drove from Huambo to Luanda yesterday -- a great trip through 600 kilometers of spectacular scenery. Nina Clancy, and Steve and Dustin Koobatian flew back, and had some time to do a little shopping.

Our fellow Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Luanda were with us the entire way. They are, of course, taking the lead on implementing the project for Rotary here in District 9350, and they are as excited about it as we are, if not more so. May, many thanks to

President Manuel Correia
President Elect Manuel de Sousa
President Nominate Arlete de Sousa
Rotarian Rosalino Neto
Rotarian Florinda Carneiro

We have to leave early for the airport this morning. It's a 9:00 am check-in for a 2:30 pm flight -- that tells you a lot about some of the challenges of working in and getting around Angola. But the challenges are more than justified by the benefits, and more importantly the results.

Here's a quick recap of our time in Huambo:

Wednesday (17/06/09)

Meeting with Ex.ª Senhora Vice Governor Lotii Nolika.

Visit Demonstration Area for “Best Practices” at Dango - training for Rotary community leaders. It's located next to a new agricultural school, built by the Chinese, who are very active here.

Visit Caala warehouse for Rotary fertilizer. The fertilizer inventory checked out, and we saw how they manage thier inventory controls and distribution process. We also learned there, and later on as well, that fertilzer is gold in Angola.

Meeting with a women's group at Cariamamo – seed banks and rural credit.

Field visit toSr Ambrosio, Treasurer of the Seed Multipliers Club at Chilela - potato seed production and warehouse (Ekunha municipality). This was one one of a couple seed warehouses for the project. Its potato seed, which requires special handling, and it looked good.

Thursday (18/06/09)

Visit potato trading and varieties at the Chinguar market. It's an active and vibrant market, with a variety of goods and agricultural produce on offer. We also saw a modern refridgerated warehouse, next to railroad tracks that are scheduled to become active next year.

Meeting with the Representative of the Institute for Agrarian Development and visit potato planting by the seed bank at Cantão 4. The timing for our trip was perfect, and it was honestly coincidental, but you take your luck where you find it. The Rotary seed and fertilizer distribution is just starting, and we saw one of the 25 local agricultural associations that we're working with begin to plant their field.

Visit seed bank at the community of Cangala. We met with the leadership of another agricultural association that Rotary is working with.

Visit Rotary beneficiary community at “Quinze”, in Bailundo. This association will receive seed and fertilizer in a few weeks. Right now, they're running controlled experiments with the two potato varieties we're distributing, confirming that the varieties work in their soil, determining which one to use, and experimenting with different application levels of fertilizer to determine the optimum amount. It looked to me like it was right out of the Uuniversity of California Agricultural Extension handbook.

Friday (19/06/09)

Visit the Cooperative Agrocalenga Caála – Womens Credit Group – Rotary impact on final beneficiaries. You hear about microcredit and microfinance, but you don't really appreciate it until you see it in action. A "solidarity group" made up of a couple dozen women are taking small loans, building their own "bank", and making more loans. Some of the money borrowed goes to seed and fertilizer, some of it goes to small businesses, like making and selling clothes.
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We're all here at the hotel with John Yale, getting ready to head out for a look around Luanda.

Left to right: John Yale, Seve Blum, Kristin Pires, Steve Koobatian, Dustin Koobatian, Nina Clancy
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We just heard that PDG Nina Clancy, PP Steve Koobatian and his son Dustin have landed in Luanda and are making their way to the hotel
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Kristin Pires took a couple of quick snap shots as we drove in from the airport...

Outside the terminal at Luanda airport

On the way to the hotel


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Kristin Pires and I are in Luanda, the capital city of Angola. The flight from Joburg was flawless, but our arrival at the airport wasn't quite that. We walked into a mad rush at passport control to get immigration forms. It sorted out eventually, then we waited maybe an hour and half for Kristin's backpack to appear at baggage claim.

After that, though, it was back to flawless. Rotary's partner on the Million Dollar Dream project is WorldVision, a Seattle-based relief and development organization with an extensive operation here in Angola, as well as projects throughout the developing world. A WorldVision driver picked us up and brought us to the Hotel Tivolli. We checked in, and then met with John Yale, WorldVision's country director for Angola.

John told us a lot about Rotary's project in particular and WorldVision's activities in Angola in general. Those details will come in a later post -- this is just a quick update while I have a few minutes of Internet access before we head out to dinner.

We're going to have dinner with John, then hang out tomorrow morning waiting for the rest of the team to arrive. Once we're all together, were going to take a quick tour around the Luanda area, and visit WorldVision's headquarters here. Tomorrow evening, we attend the Rotary Club of Luanda's regular meeting.

Wednesday, we head to Huambo, where our Rotary project is based. John has promised that we'll be able to see the entire distribution chain for the seed and fertilizer that District 5230, the Rotary Club of Luanda and the Rotary Foundation have raised $250,000 to buy.

It's all real now!

More later...
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Well plane hit by lightning by no damage. This is an exciting trip! Steve, Dustin and I have experienced the assistance of Ambien and after 24 hours of travelling feel great. I've slept at least 9 hours but I can sleep anywhere. Ready to apply Deet to repel the welcoming herds of mosquitoes of Luanda.. We are being met by World Vision then it is off to an orientation and to meet up with Steve blum and Kristin pires in Luanda. Tour of city WV headquarters and the Rotary Club of Luanda,Hard to believe this is real! Plane for luanda packed with business people maybe 250 or an Airbus there is a lot I want to know about this developing country.
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I can't believe it is here. In a little over 24 hours we will be half way around the world another time zone another season. Oh the things we will see!
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The Victoria and Albert Waterfront is Cape Town's commercial showcase, with malls, restaurants and a lively promenade. Rotary makes it mark there, sponsoring a signpost that shows you exactly how far you are from most of the rest of the world.



Friday was a perfect day, mild temperatures, low humidity and a gentle sun. Today it's back to winter. Not bad, very San Francisco-like. Cool with cloud cover and rain expected later on.
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We took the ferry to Robben Island today. It's an island about 13 kilometers from Cape Town, where the former apartheid regime kept its political prisoners. Former inmates talk about their experiences, and what it was like in one of the world's most notorious prisons.


Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in custody, the bulk of that time at Robben Island, where he and other resistance movement leaders spent their days quarrying limestone under very harsh conditions.


The leaders were kept in small cells, in a high security section of the prison. Sometimes sleeping on the cold floor for years at a time, very few privileges. Tuberculosis was a risk, eye sight damage from the constant limestone glare was common.


The prison was shut down with the end of the apartheid regime. Now it's a world heritage site, and a living memorial.
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We'll be in a different hotel than planned for our first two nights (15 & 16 June) in Angola:

Hotel Tivoli
Phones: 244-222-370070 / 335645
Fax: 244-222-335644
Address: Rua da Missão, 85, Luanda

No change at this point for our last night, 19 June 2009. We're told a WorldVision driver will meet us when we arrive at the airport in Luanda. We'll be arriving in two groups -- Kristin Pires and I on Monday, 15 June, and Nina Clancy, Steve Koobatian and Dustin Koobatian on 16 June.
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Kristin Pires and I have made it as far as Heathrow airport in London. Brief hassle at SFO when United overbooked our flight to London and started to involuntarily bump people off of the plane. There had been an earlier cancellation on, I think, US Air, and when they starting re-arranging seating to re-book people, my seat assignment evaporated. Or so it seems. But it was straightened out and we both made it onboard and to London without incident.

We've confirmed our seats on the flight to Cape Town. We're flying South African Airways there, it's about a 12 hour flight. Looking forward to arriving!
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I cannot believe that our trip is just around the corner. Ten days and counting! I am looking forward to meeting the members of the Luanda Rotary Club and John Yale, World Vision, Angola. This is going to be an amaxing adventure!
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WOW! I can't wait for the trip to begin! Our team has worked hard to make this happen and we will be leaving in 12 days! I am so proud to be working with District 5230 Rotarians- they are Awesome! ~Steve Koobatian
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