Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Shout out to Steven

This is Steven. He has been hanging around the T4T offices, trying to lend a hand with the experiments.

Incinerator Pics

Here the first picture is of the medical waste that is ideally burned. Waste is supposed to be segregated into different categories and then packaged. WIthout this crucial step in waste disposal, there is no way to have any consistency as you burn the waste, and emissions cannot be regulated.

This is a picture of the incinerator chimney during operation. The incinerator is currently burning waste at temperatures over 900 degrees C, and as you can see, there is no smoke! This is exactly what we're looking for.

2nd Day of Testing

So today we did some more testing. We spent the morning discussing how we could most effectively set up our experiment, and decided on what factors we need to analyze. It was a really successful and productive day. Now that we have an gas analyzer to work with, it's really giving us a lot of information to evaluate how effective the incinerator is, and how it can most effectively be operated.

I'm going to try to upload some pictures from the day. They're pretty big so it's going to take up a few posts. Be patient with me.

This is a picture of Nicholas decked out in incineration gear during our tests.

This weekend turned out to be a great deal of fun. On Saturday, as Will wrote, we went to the graduation/turnover ceremony for KiBO. They turned over the items that they bought with the money they raised to a primary school. There were mattresses, roofing materials, and a water filter that Platinum Capitol turned over. As mentioned by Will, I was asked to speak as a "special guest." I was caught off guard. Following Agnes who gave a speech about how it was time for Ugandans to return to a time when doing a good deed was an act of kindness rather than a way to make a profit, I told the group about the Ingram Scholarship program and its emphasis on service I also told the story about Nicholas and the computer being a "tool."

Following the ceremony, Will and I went to lunch with Samali and Agnes and then to visit Agie's friend's grandmother. That evening, we went to Jeremy's home for a lovely dinner and to watch the European Championship in football (soccer). It was a great deal of fun. Jeremy and his wife Jamie are terrific host. Even better, their children kept us entertained and active. We fought with lightsabers, and I was shown how they water the plants aka "what we do to make our parents proud."

Sunday was a relaxing yet productive day. I decided that it was time for me to read the Harry Potter series, which Will brought with him. This was a terrific decision. They are so good. I can't stop reading. I am 240 pages into the Chamber of Secrets! Hopefully, I will be able to finish the whole series before I get home.

Yesterday, I started making appointments with different NGOs to meet about service projects for EAC children to participate in. This morning, I had the first of these appointments with an organization called BeadforLife (http://www.beadforlife.org/). This organization, as I understand it, has three programs. The first program is an 18 month leadership and empowerment program for women. During the first 15 months, women that come from dire circumstances learn to make paper beads. They then sell these beads to BeadforLife who send the jewelery to the US to be sold. Each time a woman sells beads, money is put in an account. The money in this account is for the women to start their own businesses in the last 3 months of the program. I was really impressed with the way that this program gave women the tools to succeed on their own. The second program, I believe, is similar to the first; however, women learn to produce soap rather than beads. Finally, BeadforLife provides funds for children that have dropped out of school to go to vocational school.

When I entered the BeadforLife compound, there was a celebration taking place. Women were dancing and singing traditional songs. I was invited to join. To my embarrassment, I did not have the dance abilities needed to be a successful participant; however, they were very welcoming and only laughed at me once. Witnessing how BeadforLife uses music was surprising and exciting. Because EAC focuses on music and dance, it is great when an organization shares this as it opens up widows for relationships. I can see EAC children using their talents when volunteering with BeadforLife. It is going to be interesting to follow up with the organization in the coming weeks.

Finally, I met an older woman from Boulder that was volunteering with BeadforLife. Last year, she and her husband decided to drop everything and move to Kampala for a few years. Mom and dad . . .

- Feldman

P.S: Go Mavs!!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

First Day of Testing

So today we finally got into the testing of the incinerator. It took quite a bit of patience, but finally at the end of the day we came up with some test results. This morning I came in to the office and realized we had forgotten to charge the analyzer, so we had to wait 3 hours for that to finish, and since the incinerator we were testing hadn't been used in several months, it took a very long time to heat up to required incineration temperatures (700+ degrees C), but after some waiting we finally broke out the new gas analyzer for the first time and ran some tests. After putting so much effort into acquiring an appropriate analyzer, I was pretty nervous that we would get to the testing and something wouldn't work, but to my great relief, everything functioned normally and we got good results. This was just some preliminary testing, and only one category of waste was analyzed, so we haven't really scratched the surface as far as testing goes, but it was still good to see that everything was working normally, and we have a pretty good idea about how we need to go about running the rest of our tests. Nicholas (a different Nicholas than the one mentioned in the last couple of posts) taught me a lot about how the incinerator works, and instructed me on how to run it properly. It really is amazing how well it seems to do it's job for something that seems so plain and simple. Hopefully we'll keep having success as we continue the testing. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

- Stokes

They will eat me!

I just wanted to quickly share a pretty funny encounter thatMichael and I had yesterday. After the KiBo graduation , Michael and I went with Agie to visit one of her friend's grandmother (confusing, I know) who lives in a village a little outside of town. She is having some heart problems, so Agie wanted to go check on her, and Michael and I tagged along to keep her company and see a different side of Kampala. After trying to follow some pretty confusing directions, and fifteen minutes of searching for the ever elusive "green gate" we found her house and Agie got to make sure everything was ok with her friend's grandmother. As we were leaving the house we ran into a couple of kids, probably 3 or 4 year-olds, and Michael and I walked up to greet them. As we approached the little girl backed away saying in Luganda, "They will eat me!" We wanted to assure her that there was nothing to be afraid of, so we knelt down and offered out our hands in peace. But, to our great amusement, instead of shaking our hands, she grabbed the little boy standing next to her and pushed him out in front of her as if to check to see if he would get eaten. Only once the little boy had survived his encounter with the "muzungu's" did the little girl approach to shake our hands. Maybe this was one of those things that you had to witness, but Michael and I got quite the kick out of it.

- Stokes

KiBo Graduation

Yesterday Michael and I went to see the KiBo graduation ceremony at St. Mary's Goretti Primary School. As Michael explained in more detail before, KiBo is a program to learn technical job skills while also implementing a service project. This KiBo class had raised over 2,000,000 UGX to buy supplies to fix up St. Mary's, and this ceremony was the official presentation of this gift to the students and teachers of St. Mary's. We were there primarily in support of Nicholas and another EAC girl who were a part of this KiBo class, although Michael got called on to give a quick speech about why he was here in Uganda, and what he was doing with Empower African Children. We were all captivated by his moving words. Anyways, it was a very interesting ceremony of recognizing the class's accomplishments, personal stories of the graduates, and thank you's from the St. Mary's kids. It was really cool to see the idea service and service learning spanning across cultures. KiBo seemed toy stress the idea of using the skills learned through the program to better their communities. For most of the graduates this seemed to be a new idea they first learned through KiBo. It was so cool to see that these graduates, no matter what kind of social condition or standard of living they had come from, had learned the true heart of service which calls them to use whatever skills and resources they have, in particular the new skills they have learned through KiBo, to better lives around them. These students were proud of what they accomplished through their KiBo project and were excited about the opportunity to go out from the program and find places where their new skills could really be put to use. I think we could all take a lesson from these kids, and I felt fortunate to get to witness this special occasion firsthand.

- Stokes

Friday, May 27, 2011

My Day with Nicholas

Yesterday was one of the most memorable days I have had in Kampala. I shadowed Nicholas, one of EAC's students. He is the most gentle, kind, and hardworking person. On Monday, we had reunited in epic fashion. I was walking back to the EAC office from the EAC home when I heard my name being called. I was confused. Who in Kampala would know my name? It was Nicholas! He told me "I am so happy to see you." The feelings were mutual. Currently, he is enrolled in a technology and leadership program through the KiBO Foundation. Service learning is one of the main components of the organization’s curriculum so I asked Nicholas if I could join him for a day to learn about the program.  He was happy to let me tag along. The day turned out to be more powerful and fun than I expected.

I met Nicholas at EAC’s home at 8 AM. For transport, I took a boda boda. I wore my heroic new motorcycle helmet (or “element” as it is pronounced in Kampala). It is red with flames and has a clear sheet a plastic that moves up in down in the eye area. I told the driver to go super slow and not pass any vehicles, a request that he followed. So, I got his number if I ever need a ride. Ask anyone and they will tell you that it is important to have a few trusted boda boda drivers. I was happy to find my first.

 From the house, Nicholas and I walked to the KiBO Foundation. It was a 30-45 minute walk. Interestingly, Agie, EAC’s program manager in Kampala and one of my favorite people, saw me walking. She did not see Nicholas and called me because she did not understand why was walking the opposite direction of the EAC office and said I looked confused. I thought that this was funny. It was probably just my normal face because I live life in a constant yet wonderful state of slight confusion. It’s hard to explain.

During our walk, Nicholas and I had a wonderful conversation. First, he told me about the KiBO Foundation. The organization main program, which he is enrolled in, is about three months long. Students learn work skills, which they then apply to a service project. For a straightforward explanation, go here – http://kibofoundation.com/pages/kibo_model.html. Nicholas’s class is raising money to assist a primary school. To fund the project, every student is required to raise at least 50,000 Ugandan shillings. Nicholas raised his money by providing car washing services to EAC staff and assisting an orphanage that raises money by catering events. Later in the post, I will go into more detail about Nicholas's plans to eventually open a bakery and the orphanage that he helped. In addition to personal fundraising, the students held group events, which included an entertainment show that some of EAC's students performed in and a car wash. 

Later in the day, Nicholas gave me the proposal that the class put together for fundraising purposes. The  impressive document outlines the project and provides a proposed budget. It will be an amazing source to me as I consider elements of the service curriculum I create for EAC. It is important to note that Nicholas was elected to be Project Manager. According to one of his teachers, he has done an amazing job of organizing the project. I would agree. Throughout the day, he would tell me about decisions he made about how to approach the other students. It was as if he had been in my Human and Organizational Development courses at Vanderbilt.

One of the things that Nicholas told me that made me happiest was that he learned that the computer is just a tool. He said that when he started KiBO, he thought that he would simply learn computer skills and that would make him more employable and better off; however, he learned that computer skills are just a small part of the equation. He said, “Skills are just tools to be used to get important things done.” That is one of the major points I want to make in the curriculum that I create.

KiBO has inspired Nicholas to really think about how he can give back to his community. The idea of performing community service now excites him. After he explained KiBO, I explained my project. Nicholas told me that he liked what I was doing and would like to assist me. After asking Jeremy, it looks like this may be possible. This is a prospect that I am very excited about.

When we arrived at KiBO, the receptionist called the program coordinator over to give me an overview of the program and tour of the facilities. I felt bad because I had very few questions. Nicholas had done such a great job of explaining the program that I did not have much more to learn! After the tour, I assisted Nicholas with making LinkedIn account and went with him to pay carpenters that are making doors and windows for the school that they are assisting. Saturday is the groundbreaking of the project and graduation of his KiBO class. One of Nicholas's teachers joined us to go to the carpenters. We became instant buds because he is a huge fan of basketball and said his favorite team was the Dallas Mavericks! 

After going to the carpenters, Nicholas and I went to lunch at Palm Pizza, one of the places that Nick Hall and I used to like going last year. During lunch, he told me about his hopes to open a bakery called ONick's People's Bakery. He has an amazing vision and his passion for baking is clear from the moment he begins to talk about his idea. He asked me if I would be willing to go with him to the Daughters of Charity Orphanage to see a cake that he was working on. Even if I had something important to do, I could not have said “no.”

We stopped by the EAC home so I could get my backpack and then started our walk over. This proved to be a powerful journey for me. Nicholas and I took a shortcut through one of the slums in Kampala. While I visited a school in this area last year, I had not walked through the community. Nicholas apologized for taking me through this area, which I told him was unnecessary. It was important for me to see and caused me to think. I was proud of him because he had a great deal of knowledge about different NGOs operating in the area and which ones the communities were receptive to. It is going to be great to have him assisting me when I go out to create service opportunities. I do not know how adequately describe the slum. I think it something that you have to see for yourself. Pictures or words cannot really capture the reality. I will continue to think about it and maybe write a posting later about it. I can tell you that people were surprised to see me, a “muzungu” (white person), walking through their community. Children came up to shake my hand and ask me how I was doing.

When we arrived at the Daughters of Charity, I met some of the staff and promised to return to learn more about the organization. Then, Nicholas showed me the cake he was working on. It was 15 layers and really impressive! I really think he has a future in baking. This was the final activity in a wonderful day. I developed a stronger bond with Nicholas, witnessed amazing potential, and was inspired by the work of KiBO.  

After Daughters of Charity, I returned to the EAC office and started going through reports written by EAC children. They were assigned to do a service project in their homes during one of their school breaks. I am charting these reports and will write a post about my finding when I finished. Following work, Jeremy invited Will and I along with a few others to come chill at his home. We had a great time. It was relaxing few hours and full of laughter.  On the subject of Jeremy, he has been amazing and extremely helpful to me since my arrival. I owe him a special shout out and thank you. When we left his home,  Will and I returned home to cook our first meal. That is an uninspiring story for another post . . . 

- Feldman 


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Blogging Under a Mosquito Net

Before I fall asleep (It’s 11:22 PM right now), I want to provide you with an overdue explanation of my project.

Over the next eight weeks, I will be creating a service learning/community service curriculum for Empower African Children. This is an idea that I became excited about last summer when I was creating outcome measurement tools for EAC with Nick Hall. In the last few days, I have had the opportunity to speak with EAC staff, which has allowed me to develop a  more focused approached to what I will be doing. 

The curriculum, as of today, will include four components. First, there will be a instruction about service. The goal of the portion of the curriculum is for the children to obtain an understanding of types of service, the purpose of service, and what effective service entails. Topics covered will include sustainability, service as skill/career development and review of different service pioneers from around the world to widen the children’s perspectives to think more globally. In addition, I plan on creating activities around films to be screened at the EAC home during school holidays. If you have any suggestions of films about service, please email me. 

The other components of the curriculum involve performing service. A major portion of my time in Kampala is going to be spent reaching out to different organizations and communities to create opportunities for EAC children to volunteer. I am also going  I am going to create resources for EAC children to be involved in group and individual service.  In addition, I am going to work on how EAC children can participate in service projects with US visitors coming to Kampala.  

I hope this provides you with a better understanding of what I am doing in Kampala. Tomorrow morning, I will write a detailed description of my day with Nicholas, my friend and one of EAC’s students. We had an amazing day, and he is now going to be assisting me with my project.  I will also write about some of the research that I have been doing. I am so excited about the potential of this project and look forward to sharing more with you. Make sure to check back. 

- Feldman 


Debut Post... get excited

I've been kind of slacking on the whole blogging thing so far, but I'm turning things around. This is my second day in Kampala, and it has been quite an adventure already. Sometimes travel happens so smoothly, but this unfortunately was not one of those times. My first flight to Dallas to meet Michael was cancelled due to "operational reasons" and from there things just got out of control. To make a long story short, I missed all the flights of my first attempt to get to Kampala and had to rebook and start from square one three days later. On Tuesday night, I arrived in Kampala at 10:15 pm jet-lagged but relieved to have finally made it. I spent yesterday getting settled in and trying to stay awake mostly by just wandering the streets trying not to get hit by a boda boda. I managed to stay awake the whole day, and after some solid Indian food with the rest of the hostel, it was time to hit the hay.

Today has been my first day at the Technology for Tomorrow offices located at Makerere University, getting oriented with the place and meeting the people I'll be working with for the next eight weeks. It's been a day of planning and outlining the approach to our problem which is the testing of the gases emitted from the medical waste incinerators that T4T is developing. We travelled to two of the sights where testing will take place. They are hospitals in Nsambya and Rubaga where the T4T incinerators are already being used to dispose of infectious and sharps medical waste. To give a little idea of the problems medical waste disposal can cause I'm going to give a little history of the disposal problems the Nsambya hospital has had.

Years ago Nsambya began operations and built a large stone furnace that was going to burn all the waste produced by the hospital. Waste was all just piled into one big heap and then shoveled in to the furnace to be burned. There were several problems with this method. First, by indiscriminately shoveling in waste, there is no way to maintain any type of consistent incineration temperature, and monitoring toxic byproducts is near impossible. Temperatures high enough to appropriately dispose of medical waste were not being maintained, and huge amounts of toxic fumes were being released into the air. The smoke was so bad that nearby schools were having to close down during operation hours of the incinerator, and the surrounding neighborhood was seeking to sue the hospital for the harm the emissions were causing. Eventually this furnace was discontinued, and the hospital reverted to loading up wastes and shipping them out to trash dumps around the city. This caused even more problems in that infectious wastes were being scattered around the city and proper disposal would never happen, which is why it is technically illegal to move infectious waste from the sight of production. A third attempt was made to dispose of this waste by constructing a new fuel assisted incinerator. The gas powered burner was able to maintain higher temperatures, but smoking was still excessive, and fuel costs made operating the incinerator too expensive. Finally, Nsambya hospital heard of the incinerators being produced by T4T and ended up giving them a shot. The incinerator in operation now, the T4T Mak V incinerator, is 95 % smokeless and requires no fuel for operation. It can maintain incineration temperatures and still accomodate huge loads of waste. There have been no complaints from the community about the incinerator and waste is being disposed of more efficiently than ever.

If you made it through that perhaps long-winded account of medical waste disposal issues, hopefully you understand a little bit about what my my project is trying to accomplish. The goal of this project is to produce more stories just like that. We are trying to provide an affordable and efficient method to dispose of medical waste. Although there are several incinerators in operation, distribution of the incinerators is being hampered by the fact that there has been no official testing of the gas that is released by the incinerator. There are several organizations across Africa interested in this incinerator, but in order to get approval results of gas analyses need to be shown. This is where my specific role in the project comes in. I have provided T4T with the appropriate equipment to test the incinerators, and with the information gained from these tests either further improvements can be made until it meets the required specifications, or immediate approval can be granted and the incinerators will be ready for distribution all over Africa.

More to come....

- Stokes

P.S. hopefully pictures will be added to these post soon, so get excited for that!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Quick Update

I don't have much time to use the Internet, but I wanted to quickly finish up what I said yesterday about Monopoly. 

Along with three EAC children, I participated in a game of Monopoly at the house yesterday. As I wrote yesterday, it was epic - almost 3 hours long. I am considering switching my summer project. As I will explain in more detail later, my project is to create a community service curriculum for EAC; however, I think that I should maybe consider creating a course about real estate. Marinisha (one of EAC's children), especially, showed a knack for the game. At first, I did not understand her strategy. She was not buying anything. Then, when it was just us two left and I landed on Park Place, which she had a hotel on, I understood. She outwitted me. It didn't matter how much property I had. Florence, who I wrote about on the blog last year, joined the game. It was great spending time with her. She is as mischievous and fun as ever. 

I am going in about an hour to pick up Will from the airport. I am excited for him to get here. Kampala is an amazing place, and I am excited to share it with him. Look for another and as I have promised in every posting so far, more detailed update tomorrow. 

- Feldman 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Staying Awake

Today, my main goal was to stay awake. So far, so good. I went to sleep around 10 last night; however, I think my inner schedule processed this as a nap. At 1:30, I woke up and could not get back to sleep. Maybe, it was nerves about the Maverick's game. In order to get adjusted to the time, I have had to force myself to stay awake all day despite my desire to jump in a bed. The final two sleepless weeks of school were excellent training for this task.

It also helped that today was full of reunions and fun. At the EAC office, I got to see all the people that I developed such a fondness for last summer. Rose greeted me with a great smile and big hug. It was great to see her. I jokingly exclaimed "My sugarcane!" Last year, when we were walking together during Martyr's Day, a taxi driver yelled out, "Look at that man protecting his wife," which led to this inside joke.

After a brief meeting with the EAC staff, I went to the EAC home to spend some time with the children. Some Highlights:

  • I had an excellent discussion with Brian - one of EAC's students. Last year, we bonded because he joined Nick and I when we rafted the Nile. We talked about the Spirit of Uganda tour, and I told him about Vanderbilt. During our conversation, I looked over at the game shelves and noticed that they had Balderdash. I had not seen this since 6th grade English class! I explained it to Brian. We didn't play a full out game, but it was fun to express my excitement. I have been searching for this game for a while.

  • With three of EAC's children, I participated in an epic game of monopoly . . .

Have to run out of the office. Come back for an completed updated tomorrow including a thank you to Jeremy . . .

- Feldman

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Summer Kamp Begins (Without Will)

I arrived in Kampala last night. Unfortunately, Will was not with me. His flight to Dallas was canceled Friday morning causing him to miss our flight to Amsterdam. Ironically, the flight to Amsterdam was also delayed by the Dallas weather. If it had left any later than it did, I would have missed the flight to Entebbe. I am looking forward to Will's arrival on Tuesday. It was sad to go to sleep last night without anyone to talk to. 

In terms of flying over, there is not much to write about; however here are a few comments: 
  • As we took off, I noticed on the flight tracker that there is a town on the border of Kansas and Oklahoma called Liberal. I could not think of a more inappropriate  name for a town in this location. It made me chuckle. There is a book about Kansas being conservative (What's the Matter with Kansas I believe its called) and Oklahoma is the only state in the union in which every district voted Republican in 2012. 
  • Thanks to Wilson's (my roommate from this  year) suggestion, I began reading Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. It is a terrific and powerful book. I recommend that you find a copy. 
  • The person sitting next to me on the airplane was very interesting. She was from Florence visiting her fiance who is working with the UN for a few weeks before the two of them return to their day job of helping refugees in Afghanistan. I wish there was less of a language gap because her story was so interesting.
Today has been relaxing and fun. Jeremy, who works with Empower African Children, picked me up at 12:30. We ran some errands (picked up a phone, some groceries) and went to the EAC house. The children are on school holiday until Tuesday. It was great to see them. There was a rush when I arrived. All the children gave me hugs and handshakes. It was a bit overwhelming and at the same time made me so happy. It was great to be reunited with everyone. I had a great conversation with Jengo who I had especially bonded with last year. There were some peas and rice, my favorite Ugandan food waiting for me. It was delicious! I look forward to going back tomorrow. 

I will update the blog with a better and more extensive description of my project , but I need to go write some emails before my laptop runs out of battery. There does not seem to be electricity today. I thought that electricity was necessary to have wireless Internet, but I guess i was wrong. I need Will - the engineer- here to explain things like that me. 

Go Mavs! 

- Feldman