El Salvador Group:
- Meets 9:00 pm Wednesday nights in Anderson 208
- Contact: Jesse.Cohen@tufts.edu, Jacobthomasdenney@gmail.com, Ariel.Branz@tufts.edu
El Salvador Group:
El Salvador Group:
Please click link to see a short summary video of what our team was able to accomplish this summer on their implementation trip to Uganda: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fx5u8_v4Eyk
Good morning all,
This is John making a guest appearance on the blog to upload some photos for everyone to see how the progress is coming along. The internet connection in Mbale is painfully slow, so i don’t think uploading photos is a reasonable option.
I just got back to the States on Sunday after spending just about a week on the ground with the project team. We made progress in leaps and bounds during that week and I was very pleased with how well things are coming together. The travel team is really working hard and doing a wonderful job implementing the project. I’m very proud of them and I think the rest of the members of the EWB project that weren’t able to travel this year will be proud of them as well. The community is really taking to the storage tank and pump lever modification. So here are some photos to give everyone a better idea of what’s going on with the project.
…and all through the room, the travel team was working, ready to leave for Uganda!!!
Tomorrow is August 1st and the travel team will be departing for their 3 week implementation trip to the Shilongo Village in Mbale, Uganda. Traveling is Erin Coonahan, Erin Fleurant, Misaki Nozawa, Cliff Bargar, and Greg Meyerhoff. They have been doing some amazing work this summer and are all set to dive in head first into a foreign country to continue the partnership between Tufts University Engineers Without Borders, the Shilongo Village, and our contact NGO FDNC.
They will be updating this blog with their travels and progress and hope that you follow their work!
We wish them the best as they embark on their journey! They are all incredibly excited and naturally a little bit nervous, but they are very prepared and well supplied with everything they need to make the trip a success.
We have made it back to Tufts, and are happy to say that we are all healthy and in good spirits, despite the fact that we have been awake for about 40 hours, with an hour nap here and there. The two eight hour flights from Entebbe to Amsterdam, and Amsterdam to Boston have left us tired and ready to decompress. We will be spending the next few days at Tufts putting together information we have gathered over the past three weeks while it’s still fresh in our minds.
As our final note to this wonderful trip, we wanted to take the time to thank all of the wonderful people who helped make this trip and project possible, especially our donors.
We would like to thank the Millennium Campus Network for their interest and confidence in us, as well as their financial support. We are also very thankful for the funding from the Tisch College of Active Citizenship and their International Fellows Program as well as the Tufts Institute for Global Leadership. Both of these organizations have helped prepare us for our work, as well as provide leadership and a model for international work. We would also like to thank the Tufts School of Engineering for funding our mentor, John McAllister, to be able to join us for our assessment trip.
Additionally we’d like to thank Travel Savers for the discounted plane tickets, and all of the individual contributions from alumni, friends and families.
There are many other organizations, departments, professors, and individuals who have been extremely helpful to our group as we planned for this trip. We want to thank them all. We want to especially thank the Foundation for Development of Needy Communities, for their unwavering support and congruent values. Thank you to the parents of the team members for supporting us along the way, even though we know how hard it can be to watch your children work in another country.
Finally we would like to thank all of you who have been reading our Blog, sharing our work with your friends and family. We hope that you have enjoyed taking our journey with us. We hope that you will stay connected with our project as we move forward. If you have any questions, or would like to get in contact about anything regarding the project, don’t hesitate to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wanyala Nabi (Thank You Very Much!!!)
EWB-Tufts Uganda Travel Team 2010
Hello, we’ve just made it to the backpacker’s hostel in Kampala!
The past couple of days have been spent in transition from Shilongo; we’re moving back towards home in many stages. Thursday afternoon we had a goodbye celebration at FDNC. Through a coincidence with one of Sam’s many connections, we met two members of the Houston Professionals chapter of EWB. It was really interesting to talk to them and share stories about our projects; they are working in a village near the Kenyan border, and our projects had a lot of overlap. We are going to continue to talk with them as we move forward in planning/designing our project, since they are working on a rainwater storage tank. As the afternoon wore on FDNC’s staff arrived in waves until the room was filled with lots of smiling faces, chatting, and the smell of food (LOTS of food).
They had made enough matoke to feed a small army, as well as tons of chapatti, rice, beans, soup, cabbage, and fruit. David, one of the paralegal’s at FDNC, was our MC for the night, leading everyone in introductions and grace before our “swallowship,” what FDNC calls eating together. We ate as much as we could, and after finishing our food David took us out the garage and showed us a brick making machine that belongs to FDNC. This could be useful if we end up constructing a brick storage tank. We then headed back inside to hear some very kind words and inspiring speeches from FDNC staff. A member from each department, paralegal, driving, youth empowerment, vocational school, accounting, the executive director, and finally Sam, founder and visionary left us with wonderful thanks and thoughts.
We were very thankful for everyone’s words, and it was especially inspiring and validating to hear from Sam. He began with a quote about development in Africa, and how international aid can play a decivise role but the true answers lie in the leaders of Africa themselves; they need to have the confidence to take their destiny into their own hands. He said we could all learn from Africa, because there’s more to it than war, poverty, and corruption– “there’s something deeper about Africa.” We have to go back and tell people about what we have learned and bring back the good. It is an interdependence we have discovered, a relationship of give and take, learning and teaching. With respect to EWB, he called our approach unique, something they wished they had encountered 5 years ago; “this approach will have long term effects.” He called it a model to be emulated, so that in the end the community can say “look what we have made for ourselves,” and feel inspired to do more. According to Sam, every day is a miracle, and life is full of opportunities to learn from you mistakes; there’s always room for improvement. He told us he’s planning on writing a book, and we’re sure it will be a bestseller.
We have had such an amazing trip, though not without its challenges. Our goodbye at FDNC was the perfect way to reaffirm all the good work and hours of thought we have put into this project. We are excited to bring back and share all that we have expierienced and learned.
This is our final blog, coming to you from Uganda. We will fly through Amsterdam Monday morning and into Boston Monday afternoon. We have been told its the longest two hour flight we’d ever take.
We’ve all caught the Uganda virus, as Janet described in her speech to us, so we’re all hoping to make it back to this country someday.
We hope all is well at home, see you all soon.
We are now in the process of making our way back home. We left Shilongo this morning, and will be staying just outside of Mbale for the next two nights. We will be wrapping up with FDNC and local government officials over the next two days and then driving to Kampala and then Entebbe to catch our flight to Amsterdam and back to Boston.
Tuesday we finished collecting information in Shilongo. We had our eyes set on getting flow tests on each of the three springs three times this day, so Drew and Scott ran from spring to spring filling Jerry cans and writing times on Drew’s arm. The journey was far and extensive and we managed to get lost several times – but we had fun. We later land surveyed the community borehole in the morning, with a large audience of community members and on looking students. We laid out an impressive grid of over 100 points, which will give us good data in planning for implementation. Before breaking for lunch, we made a stop at the chairman’s house to talk over a few last minute details, say a very sincere thank you, and sign the Memorandum of Understanding, which commits Shilongo, FDNC, and us to our partnership.
One of our friends who has spent a lot of time with us invited us to her house in the afternoon. We sat with her family in their house, looked at pictures, exchanged warm conversation, and played with the kids outside. Afterwards, as we were heading back to our house, we passed by the local teachers collage. They waved us over to play some Volleyball and we were eager to accept. While some stayed on the sideline, others of us played for hours until the sunset. We left with many new friends, some newly tuned volleyball skills and lingo, and quite a lot of dirt and mud. We all slept well that night as usual.
The morning was cloudy, rainy, and a bit stormy so we stayed inside compiling data and writing our trip report. In the afternoon we said our final goodbye to Shilongo under the Mango tree in the Purunyende (Village’s central meeting spot). We re-presented the water quality results, which they took for educational purposes. We had written the village a letter, which was read and translated by the general secretary of Shilonogo. The final goodbye was emotional, and although we know that our group will be coming back next year, we do not know which specific students will be. The community and many of its members have grown to like us over the past few weeks, so as is normal, the goodbye was hard. We have pledged to stay in contact as best we can, and are eager to share all the wonderful feelings and experience we have gained from our work in Shilongo.
Next time we write, we will be in Kampala staying at the Backpacker’s Hostel.
Our legs have recovered from the hike (mostly), and we are back into the swing of things. We are rounding off our second week here, with just four more days in Shilongo, and seven days in Uganda. We will be leaving next Sunday at 10:00 pm from Entebbe, but don’t worry, you will hear from us before then!
Our mentor John McCalister, who spent the last week with us left on Saturday to return to his work in Massachusetts. We will miss him greatly this next week as he as been an asset to the team. With his engineering expertise and experience, we were able to gather some very important data, as well as envision the future of our project. We have been having very productive meetings and decisive discussions with the community, its leaders, and its individuals. Through this dialogue and development, we are in the final stages of honing in on the specifics of our project.
Friday we spent the morning in Mbale town, shopping for groceries- which included Matoke (plantains), cabbage, onions, Irish (potatoes), g-nuts, and Jack-Fruit, paying a visit to the FDNC office, spending some time at the Internet Café, and doing a materials assessment, looking at both availability and cost of materials that would be used for our implementation. It was a very successful trip, and we enjoyed the energy of being in town after being up in Nyondo and the mountains for a couple of days. In the afternoon, we ran (literally) around to the three major springs to collect water samples to do more water quality tests, then waited at the village meeting spot for a scheduled meeting with the village council. We were prompt, they were … not; but in the end we had a very good meeting. It was a busy, yet rewarding day. We returned to our house after the meeting and enjoyed the sunlight while we had it, because later that night we lost power- something we have become accustomed to.
Saturday was bitter sweet. We had to say goodbye to John as he departed for Entebbe, but only after he imparted some wisdom about land surveying to us. In the morning, before he left, John tailored our land surveying skills at Nabubolo spring. Later that afternoon we would try to survey Nashiloholo, only to be deterred by the pouring afternoon showers that we thought we could escape. We retired home early and compiled the last of the community health surveys and the new land surveying data. We were lucky to see an amazing African sunset over the horizon before dinner. It was quite a sight.
Sunday we woke early, and even though nobody works on Sunday in Uganda, we dedicated the morning to land surveying the two reaming springs, Nashiloholo and Muswena. They went quite well and we were able to avoid the rain this time. Later that afternoon we had our final official community meeting. We will still be around in the village for a few more days, but the best time for the community to meet is weekend afternoons.
We arrived for the meeting around 3:15 to find a group of people already gathered under the tree at Purunyende, the village center. We waited for a few more people to come, then began by introducing what we’ve been doing for the past 2 weeks, from water quality testing to the household interviews and land surveying. We proposed our four projects and heard the community’s input. The four proposed projects are as follows: storage at the borehole, storage at one of the three main springs, rainwater catchment, and development of a brick-production system as a source of jobs and better housing structures. After thorough discussion and community agreement, our project for implementation next year will focus on water storage at the community borehole. The community further expressed their gratitude and thanks in Lugusi, which was still a very powerful and beautiful speech. We concluded the meeting with overwhelming praises and handshakes as we headed back home. It is amazing how far appreciation goes.
We will be spending our final days in the community collecting last minute information and ensuring that communication lines stay open as we head back to the States. We will be leaving Mbale on Saturday, so we are doing our best to absorb every last bit of village culture before we leave.
Talk to you soon!
Here are a few pictures of recent events!
I (Scott) am staying in Kampala tonight at the Backpackers Hostel in preparation to pick up our mentor John who arrives in Entebbe tomorrow morning. As such, I have free wireless, and can finally upload some pictures.
To give a short update on things:
We are now moved into our new home in Nyondo. Staying here will allow us to walk to Shilongo whenever we please. We will not be able to come into Mbale city as easily, and thus will not be able to blog as often. We will do our best to post an update every 2-3 days. Things are moving along well, and everyone is healthy and doing well. We are still learning so much, and sharing knowledge, stories and friendships with the people here in Uganda.
Talk to you soon.