Quiet Winter

During the winter there seems little to write about since we are not in the travel-to-Africa mode but there are some things to share. On a literary note, an exceptional editorial essay, by Nancy Gibbs (her writing tends to be of the highest quality), in Time Magazine, “To Fight Poverty, Invest in Girls,” is dead-on. Although Gibbs’ essay is not about the plight of African women and girls, she does quote a Malawian girl and provides persuasive argument that would certainly benefit the leaders of many African countries, not to mention leaders around the World. One can access the article, online, in the February 14th issue of Time.
There was also a nice article about our well repair project posted on November 4th, by WaterWideWeb.org, “Repairing Water Wells in Africa.” Further, in relation to this project, a dedicated group of high school students, with work through New Global Citizens (see the link on our main page), has undergone some tremendous fund raising efforts to help us train and outfit a few select Malawian men and women to repair and service bore holes (wells). These people will have a skill and means to earn a living as they move about their local areas and many more bore holes will remain operational over longer periods.
Yet another bit of good news arises from a November communique, to me, on the part of the Kenyan Ambassador to the US, Dr. Wenwa Akinyi Odinga Oranga. Ambassador Oranga wrote to say she wanted to visit and discuss our projects, and in early December she came to Arizona State University to attend a meeting I set up that included students involved in projects for people in Africa, our Dean of the Schools of Engineering, Professor Johnson, the Associate Dean, Professor Collofello, my colleague and partner in the projects, Dr. Pizziconi, and various other faculty members.
Ambassador Oranga, herself with a Ph.D. in Chemistry, outlined her ideas on how we might collaborate on projects with the University of Nairobi. Not long after her trip to ASU, she returned to Kenya and shared some of our ideas with her brother, the Prime Minister of Kenya.
This past week, she sent a message to indicate that she wants to talk more about our ideas and will follow up with a phone call. Our follow-up plan is to meet the Ambassador at her Consulate in Los Angeles later this spring and I anticipate having the team of students who are working on a project for a man in Kenya who suffers a disability due to a bicycle/ automobile accident a few years ago.
I am proud of the work on the part of that group as well as another team involved with a project to develop maternity clinics from old, decommissioned, 40 foot long steel shipping containers. These containers are the same that you see on the backs of trucks and trains, as well as in ships designed to take them across the seas. Once they are deemed no longer sea-worthy, these containers are stockpiled in ports around the world. We have seen them in Dar es Salaam, Durbin and Long Beach for starters and the plan is to develop a prototype on the ASU campus and then produce the clinics in Africa. Our students are working with a local (Phoenix) OB Gyn who has provided insight in what they need in the design and has agreed to travel with us to Malawi to train midwives on how to use and maintain the clinics.

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