Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ready, Set, GO!

Hello, friends and family!

Thank you for your support and interest in the Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering projects in Tanzania. We will be writing blog updates as often as possible to fill you in on our work as it unfolds this summer. As you may know, we have been preparing for this trip since our group was chosen in October, but our preparations have really picked up this past term.

After commencement (congratulations, Kevin M. on graduating!), we all took a week off to relax and spend time with family and friends. Last week, most of us met back on campus to work on last minute preparations. Thabo and I (Kim) spent several days with Dr. Nicholas Jacobs, a professor at Dartmouth Medical School, who is an expert on E. coli testing. We spent quite a bit of time reviewing and practicing our testing procedure. Now that we are well-trained, we will hopefully obtain really good results with our tests of the SODIS (Solar Water Disinfection) system's effectiveness in the climate of the Kigoma region. Emil, James, Kevin M. and Kevin D. spent many hours sorting out and testing our electronic equipment. We had a few small setbacks along the way, but everything smoothed out by the end of the week.

Though we had many long days in Thayer's Advanced Project Lab, we had some fun as well. Between road trips to buy equipment, grabbing meals, and just hanging out, the week proved to be great for our group dynamics. We ended the week with a dinner at Moosilauke Ravine Lodge with Stephanie Crocker, our fantastic project leader who has helped us tremendously this term, and Zach Losordo, a two-time traveler with DHE who provided us with wisdom and entertainment.

The full group reunited this morning at JFK airport. We are now safe and sound in the Johannesburg, South Africa airport. It's 9:30 AM local time as I am writing this but 3:30 AM our body time. Most of us have been traveling for over 24 hours already (Colleen has been traveling for over 48!), and some of us slept less than a hour on the 15-hour plane ride, but ALL of us are extremely excited to land in Dar Es Salaam this evening! We look forward to settling into our accommodations at UDar and joining our long-time friend Dr. Rajabu for dinner to discuss our plans for this summer. The next few days will hopefully be spent meeting with the dissertation students who have spent the last year working on improving emissions from our coffee husk stove, assessing methods of coffee husk briquetting, and analyzing potential pico-hydro production sites near Kalinzi. We're looking forward to learning about the great work they've done and have a chance to talk and work with them before we head west to Kigoma.

UPDATE: This post is, obviously, quite outdated. Apologies to all the family and friends who have anxiously been awaiting confirmation of our safe arrival! Internet is pretty spotty here even in the city. We hit the ground running here so we haven't had time to type up our experiences from the first 2 days here. More posts will be coming in the next few days!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Safe and Sound(asleep) in Dar

Today has been a wonderfully busy day.

After arriving late last night after an arduous 24+ hours of traveling (14.5 hours in a single flight), we have been welcomed by the fantastic hospitality of Dr.Rajabu and the staff of the Research Flats at the University of Dar es Salaam.

We took the luxury of sleeping in until 9 this morning to help us shake the jetlag, and met with Dr. Rajabu and his dissertation students Massud and Patrick for a great session of talking about stoves and exchanging ideas. We are looking forward to another such session tomorrrow, so that we can learn as much as possible from them before heading west to Kigoma soon. We are still arranging travel, but hope to depart on this next journey on Monday.

This afternoon was spent working on assessing our options for traveling to Kigoma, getting to know the University of Dar es Salaam campus, and getting some much needed rest.

We're all in good spirits and looking forward to the work and adventures to come!

Off to dinner with Dr.Rajabu and his students.

Kwa Heri!

-Kevin McGregor