05 July 2012

Doctors, Dinner and Dynamics GP in Kenya

For the last eleven days we (me, my wife, both kids and about 40 others) have been doing missions work in and around Nairobi, Kenya. We worked with a  local church and school founded by World Hope at the edge of the Kawangware slum. Our work included a three day medical clinic where we provided exams and medication to more than 900 people. We did a one day feeding program where we fed roughly 600 folks. We also brought electricity to the two buildings at Hope Academy. I want to offer a huge thanks to everyone who contributed to make this trip possible. You helped us make a difference.
But this is a Dynamics GP blog so let me bring this back to Dynamics GP and accounting skills. On the trip we had doctors, nurses, school teachers and a veteran utility lineman (he climbs electrical poles for a living). All of these folks have skills perfect for this trip. I'm an accountant. I can't tell malaria from a runny nose. Fortunately I'm a Dynamic Accountant so there were plenty of places to apply my skills, even if they weren't obvious.
  • Inventory - at every stage of the trip we were counting things. We counted people, luggage, money, you name it. I can count.

  • More Inventory - before we could setup a makeshift pharmacy to support the doctors, we had to separate and count the various medications that we had brought. I think you can see where this is going. Accountants rock at counting and labeling things.

  • Forms - During intake, we took basic information from everyone going through the clinic. Things like name, symptoms,  weight, pregnancy status, etc. We were primarily concerned with factors that affect medication dosing.  I worked intake for two days and if you've ever done any tax work (personal, corporate, sales and use, tangible personal property, etc.) you quickly become an expert at filling out forms.  Intake was a blast. I got to ask men if they were pregnant. The joke of having to completely fill out the form, even if the question is irrelevant,  is funny in both English and Swahili. Some of the Kenyans were still laughing about it at the end of the trip.

  • Feeding - We didn't run people through a soup kitchen line. People in our group (with direction from our Kenyan friends) cooked high nutrition meals based on specially fortified rice. We hand cut potatoes, carrots and cabbage and turned the whole thing into a sort of Kenyan stew to layer over the rice. We then individually served every person who came in and sat down. Finally we picked up each  plate  and did it all again. There was a pretty significant distance between the kitchen and where we were serving and an unusual rain the night before left much of the grassy areas under water. While it wasn't a global supply chain, I certainly got to use plenty of my logistics experience overseeing the chain from the kitchen to the diners and back.

I also got to encourage some accountants. Kenya has CPA's . The church's finance director , Action Jackson as he's known to us mzungu,  is a CPA. The church administrator, Fred, and one of the security teams members, Amos, are both studying to be CPA's. They had lots of questions and we got to bond over accounting.

We were on the bus one day reviewing what medications we had remaining when I got a glimpse of the invoice from across the bus. It looked familiar. They passed it over to me and I realized that the charity we had gotten our medication through was using Dynamics GP. There is something about that Report Writer based invoice. After looking at it for more than 10 years I can spot one from across room or a across a bus, even 8,000 miles from home.

I wrote this for you to understand that accounting is a profession. The skills you develop are useful in scenarios that you can't imagine today. Dynamics GP is a global product. You never know where you are going to find it. I want to encourage you to develop both your accounting and Dynamics GP skills. You never know when you might get to do something really special with those skills.

[For the curious, I couldn't find Diet Mountain Dew at/in: JFK (NY), Heathrow (London), the entire city of Nairobi,  Charles deGaulle (Paris) or Miami International. I also didn't pack any in my suitcase due to weight constraints. No, my 11 day stint in Diet Dew rehab didn't do a thing for my addiction.]