Farewell, Arusha!

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The view of Mt. Meru near our home in Engo

 

It’s crazy how quickly these 5 weeks have gone by.  I think I speak for us all when I say that although we are leaving, we are not at all ready to say goodbye to Arusha and the many wonderful people we have met here.  We are so appreciative of how welcoming everyone has been to us.   You know you’re in a welcoming place when you go to a stranger’s home (thinking it was a partner’s office) and you hear “Welcome to our home!” rather than “Who are you?”
Along with the many different forms of documentation we are working on this week, we’ve been having our wrap-up meetings with our partners.  Yesterday, we visited Vision 4 Youth for the last time.  We brought the small-scale TLUD kiln that we made in Bernard’s shop and ran a few demonstrations for them.  We were happy to leave the kiln with them with the hope that they will continue to experiment with it and eventually invest in a larger TLUD!  We also enjoyed a delicious lunch with them and they gave us some great Vision 4 Youth t-shirts.  We’re so thankful for the time they have given us, and for the amazing initiative they have taken with the project.
Peter explains the TLUD while Frank looks perplexed
Peter explains the TLUD while Frank looks perplexed
This morning we met with the women from EMORG and two representatives from Lulu VICOBA at EMORG’s workspace.   Unfortunately, EMORG’s carpenter had not completed the grinder as we had hoped, but he has promised that it will be finished by Friday.  The women have agreed to keep in touch with us and let us know how it works, we’re keeping our fingers crossed!  On a more positive note, it was great for the EMORG women to meet the representatives from Lulu VICOBA.  They discussed the differences in their briquetting techniques (Lulu VICOBA uses newspaper binder and doughnut molds, while EMORG uses cassava binder and cylindrical molds) as well as the cultural items that both groups make and sell.  We’re so happy that 3 of our groups have connected, and hope that they stay in touch in the future.
It is sad to be leaving so soon, but we hope that it is “baadaye” rather than “kwaheri.”  We have so many people to thank for making our time here so incredible.  We want to thank all of our partners for the hard work and time that they have put into this project, and we hope that we have been helpful in one way or another.  EMORG, Vision 4 Youth, Lulu VICOBA and Upendo – we have truly enjoyed working with and learning from you!  We also want to thank Didas, Troy, Bill, Nema and Reggie, who helped fill our home in Engo with tasty food and fun times.  Of course, we would also like to thank the Bioenergy team on campus for helping us get here and for staying in touch via skype every week!  Along the same lines, we are extremely grateful to our DHE advisors (Jessica Friedman, Holly Wilkinson, Charlie Sullivan, Mark Laser and Dean Helble) for this opportunity and for putting so much time and effort into helping us prepare for the trip.

Halfway Point!

We are now two and a half weeks into our trip, and thankfully spirits are still high!   It’s been a while since our last blog post (sorry!) and a lot has happened, including two birthdays and a good amount of progress.  We have now had meetings with EMORG, Upendo and have a meeting with Lulu VICOBA tomorrow.

The women’s group at EMORG is doing great work with their briquetting operation.  We have seen a charcoal processing session as well as their final products.  Their briquettes are beautiful and they are able to make them in fairly large quantities (about 400 per week).  We have noticed, though, that the grinding process has been very labor intensive.  They are using a mortar and pestle and it takes about two hours to process their charcoal.  Peter and I tried it out, and it’s pretty hard work (I can’t imagine doing it for two hours!).  They’ve said that a machine would make their charcoal grinding easier and more efficient, so Frank and Peter are working on creating a processing machine for them (as well as for other groups, hopefully).  We will be working with AISE’s founder, Bernard, on this project.

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Anna and I meeting with the women’s group at EMORG (and Didas!)

The other exciting news about the women’s group at EMORG is that we went to the market with them and they sold briquettes! They have been making briquettes for a long time, but have not been selling them at the market.  Unfortunately, we were only able to stay for about 15 minutes before the downpour of rain came and ended our market day.  We were able to sell some, though, and that was very encouraging.  It’s great for the women’s group to have briquette-based income so that there are tangible benefits for all of their hard work.

Vision for Youth has also shown promising progress in their briquetting operations.  Anna and I have observed their entire process now and are excited about their continued progress as we work together to increase efficiency.  We are also trying to arrange meetings between Vision for Youth and our other partners.  One of our big goals is to connect these groups together in a way that is beneficial to them, and so we are trying to set up initial meetings.  They all seem very excited to meet with each other and share ideas.

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Initial meeting with UPENDO

We met once with Upendo and enjoyed seeing their space, it was very beautiful.  Unfortunately, due to conflicts, we will not be able to meet with them again until early March.  We hope, at that point, that we are able to connect them with our other partners before we have to say goodbye to Tanzania.

On a more recreational note, we spent last Saturday in Moshi at the hot springs.  They were relaxing and a great break for a day. We swam, ate chipsi mayai, and made some friends!

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Peter, Anna and I in the hot springs in Moshi

Baadaye! See you later!

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Meet the 14W Travel Team

The 14W Tanzania Travel Team has been working together since October 2013 and has done a lot to get to this point.  We are all so excited to have the opportunity to travel to Tanzania to continue the work on DHE’s Bioenergy project.  While in Tanzania, we hope to help share information with our partners while simultaneously learning from them.  We also plan to help establish connections between our different partners in order to form a briquetting association and support network.  Finally, we hope to be able to interview and speak with our partners in order to learn and measure the impact that DHE has had in the Arusha region.  Past travel teams have done great work before us, and we hope to help the project progress even further.

Our team is so excited for this trip and we hope to reflect that in this blog.  We will be writing about our work in Arusha as well as our adventures, the people we meet, the places we see and of course, the many things that we will learn!

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Anna Miller

Anna is a sophomore mechanical engineering student from Anchorage, Alaska. In DHE, she loves being able to experience the real-world application of engineering skills, particularly human centered design. She is incredibly excited to learn from and work with DHE’s partners in Tanzania, and discover how knowledge gained on campus translates into local implementation. She also really, really wants to see a giraffe, a gerenuk, and a baobab tree. Outside of DHE, Anna loves to read, play contact sports, and explore outside.

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Frank Zhang

Frank (class of 2015) is a chemistry/economics double major from Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  He became involved with DHE during his freshman year working to improve the loose biomass stove through principles motivated by human centered design.  Since then, he has continued to work with the Bioenergy Project, whose current focus on fuel briquetting borrows aspects from its spiritual ancestor in regards to the carbonization process.  Though more accustomed to studying biological systems, he is very excited to have the opportunity to work with the current travel team to investigate the more technical aspects of a briquetting operation, such as the flow of mass and energy and its economic feasibility.  The hope is to share DHE’s knowledge with other like-minded Tanzanians to promote energy security and environmental sustainability.  Outside of DHE, Frank spends his time as a research assistant and enjoys drawing.

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Peter Lobel

Peter is a ’16 and an engineering major from Albany, New York.  As the finance and capacity building leader for the travel team this winter, he looks forward to collaborating with our partners in Tanzania and learning how to best share information across cultures.  Peter was lured to the Bioenergy project because of its focus on working with real people in a personal way to improve lives in their community; you don’t get that experience in the physics classroom.  Peter also certainly won’t be complaining about the 90-degree temperature swing from Hanover to Arusha!

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Sammie Weaver

Sammie is a ’16 from Bowie, Maryland who is majoring in Sociology with an International Studies minor.  She has only recently been involved with DHE (since 13F) and was attracted to the humanitarian work.  However, she has enjoyed learning so much about the engineering side as well.  She has worked with an international development group as well as an environmental group before and is excited to be working on a project with similar goals.  In the group, she is the lead for Communications and Impact Analysis and looks forward to learning more about the operations that DHE’s Tanzanian partners are running and the progress they have made.  Sammie loves adventures and loves to travel and is so excited for this great opportunity to go somewhere new and learn!