Sunday, December 07, 2008

Project Update

The following is an Update from Elliot:
Since my return to Tanzania in October many changes have been happening in the villages and many projects are being completed. The classroom and office at Ulonge Primary School are finished, painted, and ready for windows. The Ulonge borehole near the school is also finished and will provide this part of the village with a clean water source throughout the year. In fact, there is so much water in the Ulonge borehole that when we were pumping out the water to line bricks on the inside of the hole we pumped for two hours straight and still there was over 2 feet of water left in the bottom. We are currently building a borehole in a part of the village called Lusaula, although this project will be a little different because we will not be putting in a pump, only a well to be used with buckets. There is not enough water in Lusaula to support a pump because it is very hilly there. If we were to put a borehole in the lower elevations of Lusaula there would be a lot of water but it would not be clean as this is were many cattle are taken throughout the year to graze and drink. Near the Lundamatwe Primary School, where there are many shops and houses, we are going to construct another borehole as the first one near the school is overused. The classroom construction project at the Lundamatwe Primary School is also coming along well and is ready for a roof. The timeline for the completion of this project is before Christmas so it will be ready for the new school term in January. Work at the farm, which we have named Chogi Farm after a nearby hill, is also proceeding well. Some friends of mine from America came to volunteer and did some work both at the Ulonge borehole and at the farm. At the farm, they helped to complete the fencing and they helped to strengthen and support the roof with longer nails. They also started building the walls around the bathroom. We are hoping to have animals soon at the farm but still need to complete a few things. We did start trying to grow a small amount of broccoli plants, about 150 plants, and they were growing well until mice came and ate all of them. So, we will devise a new way of growing, probably bringing the plants inside every night (they plants are grown in buckets). One sad note in the village is the clinic. Currently the doctor is not coming because the District is not paying him. There is one village worker at the clinic who has minimal training to give shots and dispense some medicine but her skills of diagnosing problems is very limited. Now that it is the rainy season malaria cases are on the rise in the village. The clinic says they get between 20 and 30 cases a week now and medical supplies are dwindling. The District has not re-supplied the clinic for several months. When Project Kesho donated a few supplies last week, the clinic said they have not been re-supplied from the District since before Project Kesho donated supplies at the end of October. The clinic also experienced some structural damage during a recent storm that blew off part of the roof and left a gaping hole, which allowed a lot of water to get inside. The rain not only ruined the drop ceiling but also partially damaged the propane-powered refrigerator. While it still works, the dials have broken and some of the medicine and vaccinations were ruined. It has been several weeks now and the rains are still coming and the District has not yet fixed the problem, but hopefully they will soon. More news to come, Elliot Below is a picture of the new classroom and teacher office space at the Ulonge Primary School. The classroom is painted and ready for the new Standard 6 students in January! This is a picture of the new borehole in the Ulonge Community. The Ulonge School is in the background of the picture. This borehole is the only clean water in this part of the community: This is a picture of the new Lundamatwe classroom. A roof will be put on this coming week, and then it will be painted and completed before the opening of the new school year in January. A second classroom will be built in the Spring of 2009. Once completed, these two new classrooms will go a long way towards alleviating the overcrowding at the Lundamatwe School. This picture shows additional work done to the borehole near the Lundamatwe School. Bricks were added around the top of the borehole to keep water from washing into the top of the borehole. Water collects in this area during the rainy season and we don't want it to wash into the borehole and contaminate the water that is already down in the hole.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Elliot left for Tanzania on Monday. He should be back in the village the following week or so. While he was home, work on our projects continued. Project Updates: Classroom: The classroom at the Ulonge Primary School is almost complete. The walls are up and the roof is on. All that remains is to plaster and paint the walls. Farm: The floor was cemented in preparation for becoming a chicken coop: The farm infrastructure is now complete and Elliot will facilitate the purchase of the animals in early November.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Orphan Support Program

Project Kesho has been working to support the Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) population at the Ulonge and Lundamatwe Primary Schools since the fall of 2007. The need in both these communities (as well as the rest of East and Southern Africa) is great. *Currently 12 million children in Sub-Saharan Africa are orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS, and this number is expected to rise in the near future. *The percent of children in Tanzania under the age of 18 who have lost at least one parent to HIV/AIDS is 11%, while in the Iringa Region, where Project Kesho works, the percentage is 16.2%. *More than a quarter of the students attending primary school at either the Ulonge or Lundamatwe Primary Schools are orphans. Last fall we sponsored 35 students to attend secondary school who were unable to pay either because they are orphaned or vulnerable. This year we have been expanding our work to focus on the entire OVC population of the Lundamatwe village (which includes the Ulonge community). This program will consist of three distinct facets. The first will be the identification and training of local village volunteers to conduct home visits. Volunteers will be self-selected and suggested by key community leadership, including church ministers, school officials and council members. Project Kesho’s program associate and program staff member will use their contacts with the school and local churches to recruit willing volunteers, with the Tanzanian staff member serving as the program coordinator. The program coordinator will be responsible for managing the network of volunteers and providing administrative support to the network. Training will be provided to the volunteers. The second facet of this program is the creation of a sustainable animal farm to provide a source of food, education and income for this population of orphans. The goals of this farm will be to supply a sustainable and self-replicating way of providing nutritional support to both the orphans and their foster families and to provide a means for income generation for the orphans and their foster families. The third facet of this program will be to provide for the educational, health, and psychosocial needs of the orphans. The needs will be identified by the network of volunteers. Once the needs of the OVC's are identified they can be brought to the attention of the Program Coordinator and Project Kesho. We will then work to address these needs. The construction of the farm started in early July. The farm consists of building to house chickens and supplies, a fenced area for goats, and another fenced area for growing premium vegetables, which will be sold to local expats. The building to house chickens and supplies is now finished: The following picture shows the farm building under construction: We all pitched in to dig the hole for the bathroom at the farm (yes, this is becoming repetitive, but I think it highlights the lack of sanitary facilities all across Africa). This pictures shows summer volunteer (and all around cool guy) Sam Ziegler doing his share: The following are two pictures of some "helpers" that showed up: To begin to recruit volunteers for the home visiting network, we invited Furaha Dimitry, who is the Chairman of the Executive Committee of African Communities, a network of community-based organizations (CBO's) in Dar es Salaam to conduct a community meeting in Lundamatwe. Over 80 people showed up! Of the 80, 10 people expressed interest in joining a volunteer network to address the needs of the OVC's in their communities. Over the next couple of months we will be holding more meetings in other communities so that the network can be up and running by early 2009. Abbas is currently in Dar, training with Furaha and his CBO so that he can conduct future community meetings. Over 80 people in one classroom! This is Furaha leading the meeting:

Classroom Construction

This fall Project Kesho is facilitating the construction of two new classrooms. We are working with the local communities to construct these classrooms. A deal was struck between the respective communities and Project Kesho detailing how the classrooms would be funded. The respective communities were (and will be for future classrooms) responsible for securing bricks for building (either by making them or purchasing them), gathering large stones that are used for the foundation, and responsible for digging the foundation. Project Kesho is responsible for the rest of the supplies and paying labor for the construction. The local communities are responsible for roughly 15-20% of the construction costs and Project Kesho is responsible for the rest. Community support, either in terms of money or volunteered labor is important because it creates community ownership over the project. The community is able to take pride in its accomplishments and will be more likely in the future to support repairs or upgrades to existing projects. Also, by providing money or volunteering time, the community shows Project Kesho and our donors that they think the project is important to them and they do not view the project as just a handout, but rather a partnership. One classroom is at the Ulonge Primary School, and one is at the Lundamatwe Primary School. The classroom at the Ulonge Primary School also incorporates an attached office for teachers. This gives teachers space to plan lessons and grade papers. This classroom will house the students who are currently in Standard 5 and who will be moving up to Standard 6 in January at the start of the new school year. The construction of the classroom at Ulonge is almost complete. Currently at the Lundamatwe Primary School, students in Standards 1 and 2 share a classroom with one grade coming for a morning session and the other coming in the afternoon. Once this new classroom is completed they can both attend school for a full day. The residents of the Lundamatwe community are currently collecting money and gathering supplies to support their end of the bargain. We anticipate that this classroom will also be completed before the beginning of the new school year in January. The bags of cement needed at the Ulonge Primary School are pictured below. The price of cement has risen almost 25% since this time last year. As the global price of oil has increased it has had a trickle down effect on many parts of the local economy. Transportation costs to bring supplies from Iringa to the construction sites have more than doubled, and the price of lumber has increased because it costs more to bring the lumber to the mills. This pictures shows the trenches that the local community dug for the foundation of the school. The classroom after just a week of construction work. In this picture the office for the teachers is on the left and the classroom is on the right. The rest of the school is on the opposite side of the rooms.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Abbas Doing Manual Labor!

Our work in Africa would be nothing without Abbas. He does so much more than just translating. He is actively involved in every step of every project. However, Abbas definitely prefers to not do manual labor and get his clothes or (especially) his shoes dirty. So when he picked up a hoe I couldn't resist filming, and Elliot also egged him on for the benefit of the video. We love you Abbas!!!

Borehole and Pump Update

Update: Here is a picture of the final pump setup. The borehole is on the left in the picture, a child is pumping in the middle and on the right in the picture is the output hose where a lady is filling her bucket. As discussed earlier, we have been working to bring clean water to the communities of Lundamatwe and Ulonge. We are please to say that the borehole and pump have been completed at the Lundamatwe Primary School, and is being heavily used. The setup consists of a hand-dug well about 18 feet deep, which was then bricked up on the inside to keep the walls from caving in, and then the top of the well was capped to prevent foreign objects from getting inside. A platform was then built next to the borehole for the pump to sit on, with one hose going down inside the borehole and one hose that brings the water to a filling station. The video below shows several steps along the way. The end of the video shows our opening ceremony, were the borehole and pump were officially handed over to the school and the community. So far the water appears to be clean and safe to drink. Elliot and I drank it on several occasions with no side effects. When the rainy season is over, and the water table is at its lowest (late November), we will get the water officially tested. Plans are in the works to facilitate two more boreholes before the end of the year. One will be at the Ulonge Primary School. The water table in Ulonge is lower than Lundamatwe, so we are waiting to dig until the end of the dry season so that we know for sure how deep we have to go. We are also planning on facilitating a borehole in a different part of the village. However, this will be more of challenge. Since the pumps we are using are designed for Africa, they are lightweight and portable, which makes them easy to steal. Having the pumps near schools means that a teacher can be responsible for bringing the pump out every morning and taking it away at night. So before a pump can be put in a more remote part of the village an organization will need to be created that will be responsible for managing the pump. The following pictures show the various stages of construction:


I apologize for not posting to the blog while I was in Africa! The computers in the internet cafes that we have used in the past for uploading pictures and videos all seem to now have viruses on them. Elliot got several virus on his computer as a result. So we just decided to wait until I got home to post to the blog. The next several days will see many posts go up!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Update from Elliot

For the past couple of weeks Abbas and I have been working to bring clean water to the two communities of Lundamatwe and Ulonge. First we are getting a pump for the borehole by the Ulonge Primary School. Unfortunately the borehole near the Lundamatwe Primary School and the clinic is contaminated, so we have hired local workers to dig a new borehole. The hole needs to be dug down about five or six meters, to the water level, and then lined with bricks and cement. The top of the whole will then be covered and the area readied for the pump. The pictures below show the progress of the two sites: At the Ulonge Primary School the workers are constructing a base where the pump will sit. The pump does not sit right over the hole, but rather sits off to the side (where the bricks are) with a hose from the pump going down into the hole. See here for one in action. Near the Lundamatwe School and the health clinic a worker is digging the new borehole: The health clinic in the village has just received a new refrigerator. The refrigerator can run on either propane or electricity. The doctor told me he should be getting vaccines for tetanus, tuberculosis, measles, polio (not yet eradicated but last reported in the area two years ago), diphtheria, proteases, and hepatitis B. The World Health Organization helps to pay for these vaccines. The pictures below are of me working at Abbas’ parent’s home in the village taking sunflower seeds out of the flower. This is simply done by hitting the flower with a stick until all the seeds our out. Sunflower seeds are used to make oil, but, like America, children love to snack on them:

Friday, June 06, 2008

Update from Elliot 2

Work in Tanzania is progressing very well. The rains have stopped and the weather has cooled considerably. Abbas and I have been meeting with a lot of people to discuss ideas and programs. We have met with the headmasters of the community schools, school boards, and government officials to discuss both their ideas and ours about the concerns surrounding the AIDS orphans in the villages. We have also been discussing the problem of overcrowded classrooms and what to do. Both schools are overcrowded, especially the Lundamatwe Primary School where some classes have close to 90 students per class. The Ulonge Primary School needs a standard 6 classroom for next year (if it does not get one these students will have to go to the Lundamatwe Primary School further exacerbating the problem there). With regional and district governments concentrating their efforts on secondary schools, it is hard for primary schools to receive money to build classrooms. What the government is funding in the village is the clinic, which recently received a refrigerator, which will run off of propane tanks. I was unable to obtain a picture, as the doctor is in the next town over taking classes, but the nurse explained to us that obtaining the refrigerator is a further step for the maternity ward area of the clinic. The dispensary also needs a refrigerator to store needed medicines to store vaccinations. Abbas and I have also done more research on a water pump and we think we have found a solution that will work for the village, although one is not enough for a village of this size. The pump (in the picture) is cheap (under $100), durable, readily available in town (including spares), and can work in borehole less than 7 meters. We photographed this pump in a village on the road to Ruaha National Park, located near tobacco plantations. I also attached some pictures of orphans from here in Iringa town. Abbas and I distributed pens, toothbrushes and toothpaste, clothes, and a few pairs of shoes. All the clothes were from my bedroom at my parent’s house from when I cleaned out my dresser in December. It was nice to see other people able to re-use some of my old clothes. Abbas and I have several plans and projects for the next few months. We will be focusing our efforts in three main interrelated areas. We will be working to address the needs of the orphan and vulnerable children population, supporting primary schools to increase the access and quality of their education, and supporting initiatives to increase the health and wellbeing of these communities. This is Abbas’s child Ansli with Elliot's glasses:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Elliot is back in Tanzania

The following is from Elliot who recently arrived back in Tanzania. Elliot will be working hard for the next couple of months checking in on our past projects, analyzing the current situation, and preparing for our summer group.
The first two weeks working here for Project Kesho have been very interesting. I arrived in Tanzania on April 20th to spend time with my girlfriend before starting work on the first of May. In December I left my motorcycle at her house so that someone could watch it. However, I did not cover it from the rain, so it needed some exterior work done as well as some engine tuning. Abbas met me in Dar es Salaam to help me discuss the repairs with the mechanic, and he helped me transport several of my bags to Iringa. After the repairs were completed, I drove the motorcycle 500 kilometers (a little over 300 miles) to Iringa in one long day. Since being in Iringa Abbas and I have completed several tasks. The first several days were spent seeing and greeting teachers, headmasters, village leaders, and other people in the village. One of the schools has a new headmaster so we meet with him to explain who are and what we do. We also visited the health clinic, which has received some new maternity equipment. We also had a chance to visit with two of the orphans from primary school we were working with last year. The two orphan boys, Jusef and Nolasco, whom we were working with last year, are still facing many difficulties. They eat once a day (after getting home from school in the evening) and this is after walking 5 miles each way to and from school. One boy had a fungus growing on his scalp (we got him medicine from the dispensary) and he only talks to the other orphan boy who lives with him. Both orphans weighed less than 27 kilos (less than 60 pounds). Abbas and I have been thinking of ways to help, but our extra budget money for orphans is very small. These children need a lot of attention and nutrition to help them lead successful, healthy lives. We are going to visit their home soon, but the road is very bad and it has rained recently, so there will be a small stream to cross. On a lighter note, the rains have, for the most part, stopped and the weather is very nice (a little cool). More news soon…
Here are some pictures that Elliot took upon returning to Lundamatwe: This first picture is of some of the students Project Kesho sponsored to go to Secondary School. Stay tuned for an update on their status! This is the new Standard Five classroom at the Ulonge Primary School, which Project Kesho facilitated the construction. Paint and windows are coming soon! This is an inside shot on the new classroom showing the students hard at work: Here is the inside of the maternity ward at the Lundamatwe village clinic. This picture shows one of four new beds and the village doctor: This is Jusef and Nolasco. Jusef is on the left and Nolasco is on the right:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Little Angels Completed Bathroom

I forgot to upload this picture in the last post. It was sent to us about a week after Elliot left Uganda.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fall 2007 Recap

Elliot was no slouch, to say the least, during the Fall of 2007. Some of what he did has been highlighted here and here already, and some has not. The following was written by Elliot (with my commenting in italics): Uganda: Following our adventurous trips in getting supplies to finish the Ulonge classroom in Tanzania (again, see here), Abbas and I headed to Uganda to complete another project that would become a much more interesting adventure than we ever hoped or wanted it to be. Our goal, to be completed in just ten days (including 4 and ½ days of travel), was to start building a bathroom at the Little Angels Primary School and have the construction far enough along so it could be completed after we left. We faced several barriers in this project, most notably the main language used in the town we were working in was Luganda, along with with some English proficiency, and the people not being upfront with all information. But, we managed to work through these barriers, and dig the hole for the bathroom. This was a different experience than digging the hole in Tanzania, the ground was quite wet but we had to first cut down a tree, remove the stump, and then remove the roots as dug down (don't worry there is plenty of pictures!!), so each project presents its own unique difficulties. We also had to arrange for all the supplies despite the language barrier. Somehow we had spare time (we were waiting for sand and bricks to be delivered), so we arranged for much needed repairs to desks and classrooms to be completed by the carpenter, with a little help from Abbas and I and the people at the school. This school is much smaller than the Tanzanian schools we work with and also needs a lot of work. Some students do not even have desks, they merely sit on benches or stumps and when it comes time to write they get down on their knees and write on the ground. For less than $100 we were able to replace or resurface 75% or more of their desks. We simply used the existing desks, some were 2x4s and some were 2x6s, and we purchased 2x12s to be used as the new desk tops. Also included in the $100 were two roofing sheets to cover holes in the roof and sides of the classrooms that were leaking. Many students were getting wet during class as it was (and still is) the rainy season and it rains almost every day. We also purchased food for the school-- two bags of rice and beans. The picture below will help illustrate transport in Uganda, showing that the motorcycle taxis are not only for people, but for lots of supplies as well. We were made to feel very welcome by the whole school, they had many songs and dances to perform for us, as well as a great play and I hope to be returning here someday. Although, I am not sure Abbas is as enthusiastic as I am about returning. While he had fun, and was the first person from his family to ever leave Tanzania, he seemed to prefer to speak Swahili and be in Tanzania. He found it hard because since he is black, Ugandans would start speaking Lugandan to him and he would have to explain he was from Tanzania and didn’t speak Lugandan. People would just stare at him and it made him very uncomfortable. I am sure the experience broadened both of us. Although neither of us enjoyed the bus trip back from Kampala to Dar es Salaam. Going to Kampala took a mere 27 hours (it actually wasn’t bad and there were no flat tires and we didn’t run out of gas, like when Elliot and I went in September), but on the return trip our alternator stopped working and we had to spend an extra night at a rest stop. That trip took 42 hours. Neither of us was very happy, but at least we made it safely. Part of the Welcoming Ceremony: Even the kids in preschool got into it: And some really got into it: Desk Repair: Removing the old desks: Abbas helping out: The finished product: Bathroom Construction: The site for the new bathroom with the tree that needed to be removed: The digging begins!: The digging continues and apparently Elliot lost his shoes: Abbas helping out again (what a sport!): The tree stumps meets it match!: Even though the stump is gone there is still a lot of digging to do!: Elliot in the finished hole (which only took 2 days to dig), and yes, he made it out: Lundamatwe and Ulonge: Following my return from Uganda, after two days of recuperation, a friend of mine came from the States to see what my job entailed in Tanzania and help out where he could, and of course go on safari. He also brought with him supplies for the Lundamatwe/Ulonge communities including: supplies to give to the dispensary, shoes and clothes to give away, and two soccer balls, one for each of the primary schools. He also helped as we distributed left over supplies from the summer (that we could not carry over in June) to needy orphans in Iringa (pens, pencils, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and candy). We had a wonderful time together, we visited Zanzibar for a night, we stayed in a wonderful tented camp (we saw hyenas and lions extremely close and a mother cheetah with two cubs). The roof is now completed on the Ulonge classroom and the carpenters were working on the walls and floor. This week the chalkboard will be installed to have the classroom ready for students, just in time for the new school to start (at the beginning of the calendar year). Enjoy the pictures! What the finished desks look like: The new classroom at Ulonge: The old Ulonge Primary School Sign: The new Ulonge School Sign (partially funded by Project Kesho): Village Clinic: The bare cupboards of the clinic: Supplies that were donated to Project Kesho for the clinic: Supplies purchased by Project Kesho for the clinic: The Village Doctor: