Malaria Clarification

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We don’t want all parents/friends/family to freak out so we want to clarify the “one of us has malaria” statement.  The “old and fat” one has Malaria, Joey.  He has accepted his role as our guardian/supervisor and protected us by taking on all the mosquitoes in Uganda.

We would like to take a moment of silence and thank him for this. Thank You Joey, A.K.A. Mamma Duck.



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Today was another typical day: MFP going to Orungo to get more information and water team staying back to do gutters. MFP team basically explained to the village about the vibration counters & power measuring system which will be used to monitor the MFP activity, and we also asked the villagers more questions about MFP’s performance, etc. The water team did great today installing gutters on one side of the longest building, teaching kids a class, and getting started with the last side of the biggest building.

A couple funny stories & observations from today:

So this was actually from yesterday but there are these turkeys at the school that just go around and make their bird sounds regularly. One is a black male and the other one is a white female (I think?). So yesterday as Harrison and I were walking around during supper time, we passed by this classroom and we were just about to walk past it when we couldn’t believe what we were seeing and had to stop. On the front desk, there was that white turkey standing firmly on it, acting as if it’s the teacher! It wasn’t talking, but rather simply standing there, assuming its authority, looking completely confident as it stared back straight at the class. While it’s a random story, it goes to show how closely humans/livestock interact around here. Goats, cows, chickens, turkeys… they just roam the streets like any other human being and it feels really natural in that sense.

Speaking of livestock, at Orungo, we were waiting for more of the villagers to arrive to talk to us, and as we were waiting, older Julius started to talk about chickens, and there was this one big one that was quite noticeable. So I said, “That’s a big chicken.” Then Julius says that in Uganda, chickens are usually only reserved for those small chicks. Then Rebecca chips in and says, “In the US we call them roosters.” Then Julius says, “The male ones we call them cocks.” Then somebody who couldn’t resist the impulse finishes it up quite beautifully: “Well, then that’s a big cock.”

Here are some pictures from today, as well as more star pictures we took:

Mas fotos!

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A note about the star picture: We don’t see all those stars! David took that with a long exposure, so the camera picked up light from some stars that we can’t see — there’s way more dark space with our vision. But the stars are still so very stunning at night.

The first leg of our many-legged journey

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So, we’re all here at JFK (minus Harrison who left earlier today and is currently halfway to Dubai) and now have two hours to kill before take-off. They charge $$  for internet here, so we’ll just post this later.

Super long post!
1. Meet the Team
2. Project Overviews
3. Our layover in Dubai


Rebecca: I’m a rising junior studying mechanical engineering and I’m the travel team leader. Some of the things that I’m really looking forward to on this trip are meeting everyone from Pilgrim that we’ve called/emailed over the past few months and having the opportunity to interact with students at Beacon of Hope and community members at the MFP sites. Can’t wait to finally get there J

Bethany: I’m from South Jersey and a rising Senior in Earth and Environmental Engineering. I’ve spent 3 days in Egypt but never been South of the Sahara, or the Equator, before! Over the past month, we have spent most of our waking hours preparing for finals and preparing for this trip. Hopefully I can get some time to read up on the Word, our pre-trip reports, and some novels on the plane ride (but likely I will immediately fall asleep). Thank you readers for your prayers and interest in our project! Stay tuned!

Allison: Hello hello! I am a rising sophomore from Maryland unofficially studying Electrical Engineering and I am on the MFP team. I will be using my plane ride to watch movies (Yay Emirates movie selection!), read reports and sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep. I’m excited to meet people in the communities and everyone from Pilgrim (the non-governmental organization that our program works with in Uganda) and to thoroughly over-document everything in our trip! We are armed with cameras and flipcams and laptops, so be prepared for the media flood upon our return.

Rohan: Hey! I am a rising junior studying Physics (the one non-engineer on the team!) with a concentration in Math. Though I am excited to be heading over to Uganda, it still hasn’t quite hit me yet. Sitting here in the airport it is hard to imagine that I’m going to be spending the next month in a whole new culture and environment. But I know that once the plane touches down in Entebbe  and I look out, it is going to kick in! I  am most looking forward to meeting all the people we have worked with in Uganda and really just to experience the country and its culture. I am also eager to put into action a year’s worth of hardwork, planning, and testing and to see it all come together and really help people.

David: Hi, this is David and I am a rising junior (I’m old…) studying Earth & Environmental Engineering with a concentration in Sustainable Energy & Materials. This was my first year at Columbia and joining EWB-Uganda was definitely one of the best experiences I’ve had in college so far. Working with fellow students on engineering projects that actually produce something tangible and substantial is really an invaluable experience through which we can apply a lot of our skills and outside of the academic aspects, the relationships I’ve built here are…awesome. I’m really excited to travel to travel to Uganda and Africa for the first time and see, experience the culture. there while making a difference in the community, and keep yourselves updated on our project in the weeks to come! Oh, and we will be taking lots and lots and lots of pictures so do enjoy!

Harrison:  I’m a rising senior, but for real I’m just trying to finish school. Coming from the 3/2 combined plan, I’m finally able to put into use both my economics and engineering degrees on this trip.  As chief health officer and the dude with the atm card, I’m perpetually mentally preparing myself for the duties outside of the EWB trip. Rainwater harvesting has been a passion of mine ever since I learned about the water crisis (high school), and on this trip, I’ll be working with Bethany on it. Jet lag is definitely here, peace out.

2. An overview of the work we’ll be doing in-country:

Multi-function platform: Two years ago we installed two diesel Lister engines (called Multi-Function Platforms) in Usuk and Orungo. These engines can be run on either diesel fuel or vegetable oil and currently power agricultural processing machines while generating electricity (thus, the ‘multi-function’ of the name). Our NGO partner Pilgrim installed two more engines in Tubur and Anyara this past year and we’re hoping to visit those sites and expand our data collection and enhance milling capacity. One possible implementation we’ll be doing is of the COES (Cyclone Overflow Exhaust System), which is basically an exhaust pipe for the cyclone separator attachment to the milling machine. The cyclone separator is supposed to filter out the heavier flour particles from the lighter ones, but right now a lot of is just being spit out the top of the separator, and we’re hoping to remedy that.

Rainwater harvesting: Pilgrim runs a school called the Beacon of Hope College in Soroti, Uganda. Currently, the primary water source on campus is city water, which is pricey, unreliable and often goes out for days at a time. We will be installing three rain-water harvesting systems to provide a reliable and inexpensive source of water for the times when city water supply runs out. We hope that this will enable students to focus on their studies instead of having to worry about walking to the far corners of campus to fetch water. Bethany and Harrison have also been working hard on developing a curriculum on water sanitation and good health practices that we’ll help teach in classes.

There’s more information on our chapter website if you’re interested!



[21 hours later]

After making heavy use of Emirates’ awesome individual television screen service (each of us logged anywhere from 2-4 movies) —  we’re in Dubai! Rohan’s aunt and cousin are generously letting us crash with them and earlier Rohan’s cousin and her friends took us on a driving tour. The hotels here are ridiculously pretty and the airport looks like Vegas. But tomorrow night we’ll be sleeping in Kampala. David’s writing up a post now, so he’ll tell you more. OOH and pictures – we have those too!

Thanks for reading :]

Flight takes off at 8:25 AM today, which is in 7 hours — ahh, jetlag.