On Friday 2nd March 2018 years 4, 5 and 6, once again, piled onto the Horizon school bus as we headed out for the second primary school trip. This time the journey wasn’t quite as far. Just a quick drive down the road to Masese and we arrived at the Keshwala Group factory. Keshwala make a whole host of products, including Krishna candles and matches which I’m sure you’ve seen being sold all over Uganda. The company have over 30 depots in the country, one in every major town and city, but Jinja is their main supply factory.
First, we were shown the brand new, and first of its kind in Uganda, sodium silicate factory. Sodium silicate is a raw material used in soaps and detergents. Keshwala make this compound by heating the materials to a blazing 1500 degrees Celsius in a furnace that works around the clock. The compound is then cooled to room temperature and hardens into, what looks like, beautiful turquoise sea glass. The kids were mesmerised by the beautiful jewel like end product and even more inquisitive as to how this product is used in soap.
Next up was the candle making factory. Stepping into this factory was almost like stepping back in time especially in comparison to the sodium silicate plant. Here the machines were man powered and finishing touches done by hand. Men were loading hot wax into moulds while women were packing the sleek, white Krishna candles into boxes. In Uganda power cuts are frequent so candles are an essential in every home. The kids jumped at the chance to pick a candle to take home. So kids, when the power next goes off there’s no excuse for not doing your homework.
By now there were whisperings of going inside the ‘snack eats’ factory. For those of you who don’t know, snack eats are a favourite crisp snack amongst the kids and are even sold in the school canteen. But first we were directed towards the tire re-threading workshop. Here worn tires are given a new lease of life and recycled back to good as new by adding new tread and rubber. With the company’s fleet of hundreds of distribution trucks this part of the business is essential to its smooth running.
Finally, we were taken into the long anticipated savoury snacks factory. Here several crisp brands are manufactured with machinery which starts by chopping the humble potato and ending with the end result being packed into their shiny packaging. Abundant smiles followed as each child was handed a packet of ‘snack eats’ and a bottle of soda to take away.
Years 4, 5 and 6 would like to say a huge thank you to Keshwala Group for their incredibly kind and generous hospitality. We’ll be sure to come back soon!