Here is Part II of my husband’s volunteer work in Guyana. It was great to hear how my husband was able to use his considerable experience to help this people group to formulate products with local ingredients. Without the benefit of modern western facilities, they were able to successfully develop several products.
My host, Greg’s house is built about 200 to 300 feet deep into the wetland area. It is connected via a dugout water trench to the river. When it is high tide, the dugout is filled with water, so his motor-boat can go in and out freely. When it is low tide, he can only push the boat in and out of the trench with paddles. After arriving at Greg’s riverfront home, his wife Annie welcomed me to their lovely home. His home consisted of several wooden structures built over the swamp and connected to each other with wooden boards forming bridges over the wet land. Of the two main structures, one is their house and the other is used as his Crabwood oil manufacturing plant. The building housing the manufacturing plant and holding his inventory is also used as a community training center. I stayed in a room in this building during the training period. We wasted no time and went through the training arrangement and our expectations. I learned from Greg that the workshop is actually arranged on the last two days of my stay for people to come. I asked if we could move the workshop a day or two earlier and to allow time for people to come back for follow up questions. Unfortunately it is apparently difficult to make arrangements or to communicate changes in the meeting days, so the request was not carried out.
During the first three days, we made two batches of shampoo, each with a slight variation. Greg and Annie also successfully made a batch of Crabwood oil lotion and a batch of cream independently. Annie was so excited about her achievement that she took all of the cream and lotion she made to a seminar she was attending in the following three days. She showed these two new products to her class and gave them to her friends. She told Greg and our workshop attendees that her seminar classmates gave her all positive feedback to the new products and they will purchase them from her. Needless to say, it was very positive and strong encouragement to our group.
The first day of training was attended by four people from the community. Annie was in her last day of the seminar and wasn’t able to come back in time. I was told that four other community members had to abort their trip when the engine of their shared boat ride had failed to start. I went through a brief introduction and training agenda with the present attendees. I covered briefly the chemical and physical properties of the ingredients and showed them the samples I prepared in the last few weeks before my trip. I let them visualize the difference between the samples made with different types of oils. I explained to the group that safety is the most important learning exercise they must follow and how to prevent product contaminations during manufacturing. We started making shampoo on the first day right after lunch. We had very limited equipment on hand and the shampoo making practically utilized most of the stainless steel containers that Greg had. We worked together as one group, everyone took turns, and all took part in the weighing, heating and mixing. As planned, the workshop dismissed for that day with the shampoo base at the stage of sitting for self-dissolving overnight.