Wo ho te sehn?? [How are you?? in Twi and Mmienu means two]
I just returned from the village (more like small rural town) of Offuman. My Ghanain teammate, Amiinu, and I were very surprised to find that Affuman has a central chlorination and water distribution system (installed by the government many years ago). We had a great time with the water technician, Paul, who manages the chlorination process and manually adds the chlorine every three days. He currently buys chlorine (sodium hypochlorite) tablets in bulk from the nearest commercial town. We did some quick calculations and preliminarily concluded that, given the price of salt in Offuman, a small scale electro-chlorination machine could save the town’s water board money and could allow for small volumes of concentrate to be sold to those wanting to chlorinate river water on their own. We still need to do a full calculation which includes the payback price of the machine itself, though, I am very positive about this new direction.
Paul spent a few hours with us going through different design options. After he told us he would prefer to produce the small amount of electricity required using pedal-power (over a hand crank, solar, batteries, etc.), we found an old bicycle to use to visualize different design options. Location of insulated volume, type of cap, type of measuring system, etc., etc.) It was co-creation at its best!!! Now, assuming we can pull through with a working prototype, Paul will be invested into the project as he was a part of the design from the start, and the solution itself should be appropriate for his community as it was designed from his perspective (I love this!). Provided we go with this scale (four of our other team members went to smaller and more primitive villages), we will build a prototype and bring it to Paul in two weeks for him to test and offer more refinement suggestions. Then, we have a few more days for tweaks before we have our final presentations (Ste recently let me know representatives from the Gates Foundation (not Bill) will be in attendance!). Of course, representatives from all of the villages have also been invited. Then, after IDDS officially closes, we’re off to the Inter-African Maker’s Fair to display all twelve new prototypes!
Outside of design work, two friends (Joseph and Carla) and I stole a few hours one night to have a drink at Affuman’s local bar. There is one local beer that I really like (it is a Ghanain stout!). Much of our conversations kept coming back to Obama. It is amazing to see how much hope he has brought to people of all countries. Joseph is from Tanzania, loves Obama, and feels he needs to take care of the U.S. first because they elected him and there will be plenty of time for Africa later. Carla was actually in DC for election day and had never felt such an atmosphere. From the way she described it, I really wish I had been in DC at that time (sigh: thesis, class, capstone project…). Ever since I visited Europe two years ago and started learning about all of the destructive global policies of the U.S. during the past few years, I have been a little discouraged about America. It didn’t help growing up in Ohio, a state which is almost always portrayed as the most uninteresting, rural and run-down state in America. Though, over the past year which has culminating in my talk with Joseph and Carla, I have become more and more proud of the U.S., Ohio, and Columbus for that matter. Americans are a uniquely diverse collection of hard-working good people, and I am proud to be one of them. It was great to honestly feel this way.