Buwea Graduation

Aprons, certificates and frosted cakes.

There’s just something about certificates. We take pictures with them, frame them, decorate them with gold and silver and sometimes sparkles, and herald them as proof of our accomplishments. Admittedly, I myself have never quite understood it (Markey just asked me where my college diploma is, and my answer is, I don’t know…probably in a box?) but I do know this: from America to Rwanda to Tanzania, from 3 years old to 90 years old, from a young budding Little League champ to a wizened PhD, most people just love a certificate. So with the BUWEA Women’s Bakery Training graduation upon us, Markey and I planned a ceremony, prepared snacks, coffee, and cakes, neatly folded crisp white aprons, wrote speeches (ok, they were really just in our heads), and, mostly, agonized over those prized certificates.

Because our training program is more akin to an intensive and highly focused business training course, we don’t hand out certificates, much less certificates of excellence, willy nilly. This is serious business, pun intended, and finishing TWB Training signifies a thorough and real-life, working comprehension of both baking and business skills. This past week, TWB proudly gave out certificates of excellence in completing TWB Training to 15 women in Bukoba, Tanzania. Stamped with our logo, signed by myself and Markey, and bearing each individual’s name, these certificates lend that extra bit of professional recognition to the skills each woman has mastered over the last 8 weeks. We couldn’t be more proud of this group of women, and after our second sales trial on Thursday (where we sold out again!), are more than confident in their ability to succeed as the BUWEA Women’s Bakery.

So the women received their hard-earned certificates and aprons, we all ate cake (our very own banana bread with frosting on top, come on guys, nutrition), the local news filmed and took pictures, the regional Councilman gave a confusing speech, and we all managed not to cry. It was beautiful.

And, in appreciation of us, Markey and I received a bounty of gifts that I personally value more than any certificate. Each woman brought something from her own fields or home, beautifully wrapped in banana leaves and decorated with flowers. Coffee beans, yams, cassava, pumpkin, vegetables, perfume, baskets, and (!) about a dozen avocados.

Asante sana wanawake wa BUWEA, hongera! Thanks so much women of BUWEA, congratulations!