The Health Team faced the match of their lives. A match that would determine whether Afya Yetu, their project for the summer, could be implemented or not. PSI, Afya Yetu’s main product supplier were only willing to negotiate product orders when the Health Team convincingly won all five sets. The health of the population of Vingunguti was at stake.
But their opposition, various governing authorities with the power to grant business licenses stood in the way. We weren’t willing to step aside. It was time for the Health Team to dig, set and slam their way to a win.
The first set was against the TIN (Tax Identification Number). Some strong rallies ensued, but we clearly maintained control until we came through with a win (25-10 if you want to know the score). However, we were well aware that the TIN weren’t our strongest opposition as they were never going to put up much of a fight.
The second opponent we faced was the VAT (Value-Added Tax). However, we weren’t allowed to step onto the court until we had proof that we had paid our taxes. And unfortunately, as we were in the process of doing so, the set had to be postponed until we proved our eligibility to play.
The Business License stepped onto the court for set three. They promptly handed us some forms to fill out before leaving the court again. Again, we needed to sort out some paperwork before they were willing to play some ball, the second of three sets delayed. We had known the match was going to experience some interruptions, so we continued on, keeping morale high.
By this point, we were desperately keen to get back on the court and play a set. TFDA (Tanzanian Food and Drug Authority) provided a good opportunity for us to do so, our fourth opponent. Rhys and Ocheck, our key play makers moved to the front. Before we had a chance to rally for serve however, the TFDA declared they were the ‘wrong team’ for us to play as they were the central team, and we needed the zonal TFDA team. A quick team change followed and we were ready to play again.
The first few rallies were contested evenly by both teams, until the TFDA managed a lovely set and smash combination, with the ball flying into our half of the court. Unfortunately, Rhys’ stomach was on the receiving end of the ball, knocking the wind out of him. The TFDA were unable to fit our model into their existing models for licenses and consequently, we would need to register as a pharmacy. This would require the renovation of our current premises to fit the physical requirements of a pharmacy, which would be both expensive and likely delay the business opening. We took a time-out for Rhys to recover, and to change our game plan. We drew out some alternatives to the renovation plan the TFDA had provided us with, alternatives that would meet the TFDA’s pharmacy requirements, but that would require fewer physical alterations to the premises.
Before re-entering the court, we wanted to get some advice from the central TFDA office, the team we were to originally play. After looking into our case further, they began to question whether our set with the zonal TFDA office should have been played at all as they concluded that we didn’t need a TFDA license.
We then approached the TFDA zonal office with many questions as to why they stepped onto the court in the first place. We knew it wasn’t a good sign when each of the six team members gave a different response, and left the court more confused than when we began.
Our prearranged set five against the Pharmacy Council was placed on hold when their team didn’t show – we instead gave their representative a letter asking for a match in the next week. We finished the match having won one set out of the five (TIN), one set suspended mid-set (TFDA), and with three sets delayed (VAT, Business License and Pharmacy Council).
After an intensive team chat, we decided that we would not pursue a rematch with the TFDA as we believed we did not need a TFDA license. However, our relationship with PSI was dependent on us winning all five sets, including the set against the TFDA, which would ultimately provide us with all the licenses we needed to operate.
With the results from our volleyball match in our pockets, we approached the PSI offices with trepidation, uncertain as to whether they would pursue a partnership with Afya Yetu without the TFDA license. We were greeted by a big grin, courtesy of Mzee, our contact at PSI, and all began to relax a little.
The meeting began with a rather significant backward step in that we discovered that our community health workers would be unable to sell the oral contraceptive pill and delivery kits for Afya Yetu as they need to be prescribed by a pharmacist. However, our mood was quickly turned around when we discovered that this meant that we no longer required the TFDA and Pharmacy Council licenses. Although our current product portfolio had been reduced, we left with the knowledge that PSI were both keen to work with us and happy to allow us to order the remaining products when we wanted to.
We continue to pursue rematches with the VAT and Business License. Our prospects are looking strong as we look forward to getting all the licenses required for the opening of Afya Yetu.
In other news; the health team also continues to dominate CDI-wide volleyball. Natalie is learning to not close her eyes when the ball comes to her, Sam can now dig the ball towards the net instead of outside the court, Fran has begun to understand that you can play volleyball tactfully instead of using brute violence, Jack continues to up his sledging game and Rhys is slowly but surely becoming a little less competitive, which everyone appreciates.