Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Medicine and lanterns

Had another busy day acquiring things and meeting with friends. Started by picking up the medicines for Dr. Price.  Picked up, among other things 20,000 tablets for de-worming children.  If you're interested, Google "de-worming."  You'll find that the health benefits from this (which costs pennies per child) are really amazing. Unfortunately, the incidence of parasites is very high in Zombo because so few of the children can afford shoes. What incredible luck that the Prices are joining us. For what it is worth, I found the Joint Medical Store very professional and efficient and the order was very well handled with expiration dates very far out, etc.

Then, met my friend Abhay Shaw with Ultra-tec solar here in Kampala.  He delivered the 100 solar lanterns that the Chapelwood Foundation so generously sponsored.  We bought lanterns made by the d.light company (designed by social entreprenuers in the US).  These are very good quality products-Abhay scared me by intentionally dropping the lantern from shoulder height--it just bounced and worked perfectly. You can watch several neat Youtubes about them. We are going to experiment, Andrew Price being our administrator, and see how best to deploy these lanterns so the most kids can benefit.  However they end up being distributed, these are literally going to let thousands read at night and hopefully introduce a much better technology into the Zombo District. Also, part of the point is to prove the concept so that it might be replicated by others.

 The irony is that these lights are much more economic than what's being done now, the costs of a lantern that will last several years would pay off versus the costs of kerosene or re-charging car batteries in a very few months. But $15-20 is out of reach at one time for the average Zombo resident, so that's something that needs work along the micro-finance line. Abhay had several good ideas about that.

Abhay also may have an elegant solar solution to powering the Panasonic portable DVD players that we are experimenting with. We brought three DVD players and on previous trips have brought some really great educational films-many by the BBC as well as The Jesus Movie in Alur.  If this works as hoped, it could be an incredibly efficient way to share a huge volume of great material from rural school to school.  Of course, to make it work we have to figure out a cost-effective way to power the dvd players which are themselves sub-$100 in cost and can run up to twelve hours on a charge.  Along these lines, if anyone has any extra documentaries-National Geographics, BBC, PBS, etc. or other wholesome movies--those could really be seen and appreciated by a lot of kids here.

Abhay and his wife Rita also graciously invited me to an Indian vegetarian lunch in their home that was outstanding. One of the real enjoyable things about doing this is meeting folks like this-who are brilliant in their fields and have a passion for using those talents to do some good.

Closed out the day buying a portable generator, some net balls and finalizing and picking up our Macmillan maps and charts order. All of the schools for whom Chapelwood put together libraries will be getting a set.  Particularly for the schools in mud huts, for example Jupamatho and Ogalo-these are going to be a real big resource.  (Oglao was where the parents had started building the library before we even visited them just to show us how much they wanted and needed books--it is impossible not to want to help people like that). The charts have excellent visuals and graphics on English, Math, Biology, Chemistry, the Human body and so forth as well as a world and a Uganda map for all the schools. Thanks again for the contributions and support.

Tomorrow will do some more miscellaneous shopping and then head out to Entebbe, where later in the evening we'll pick up the first part of the First Group. Looking forward to welcoming them and we double checked our reservations on the way in.  Finally, I should mention how good it has been to be working again with Sabiri, our now several time driver.  He's reliable, very safe, punctual and seems to get what we are trying to do and is constantly figuring out ways to be helpful. You can't ask for more.

Best, Mark

No comments:

Post a Comment