Posted by: DHE Rwanda | July 23, 2011

Home away from home…time to start traveling!

It’s been a few days since our last post, and a lot has happened since.  Most importantly, we’ve moved into our new home!  After avoiding a not-so-truthful real estate agent, we found our way to homeowner Jane’s cozy three bedroom home.  With e.quinox here too, we have 10 people, but it’s not too cramped since we have a nice living room and porch where we hang out and also get a lot of work done.

Our kitchen! Usually crawling with ants.

View from our house. Unfortunately, the area that you see is very impoverished.

Things are going well as far as project work as well.  We had a great meeting with Ben, one of the hydro-development guys at the Ministry of Infrastructure, who is very eager to work with us.  He has already helped us find NGOs and has offered to visit sites with us and help deal with any permitting.  We also met with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the NGO that helped with the 2008 project, and they are interested in working with us again.  We’ve also been setting up meetings early next week with other local NGOs.

With the permitting and NGO process going well, we’re turning some attention to the technical side of the project.  Over the next seven days, Wiley, Ted, Mike and Emily will be in Banda, the site of the 2008 systems, to assess what went wrong in the system that is currently down.  Meanwhile, Yi, Colin, Wouter, and I, along with the e.quinox guys, Mikolaj and Richard, will be attending meetings with NGOs and visiting potential sites across the county.  Our hope is that by the end of the trip, we will have several promising sites with precise designs so that the group is very well set up to implement for years to come.

A less glamorous, but absolutely necessary, part of the trip has been documentation.   As we were preparing for this trip, we realized how little we knew about Rwanda, so as a result, I think we’ve been really good about documenting any kind of useful information so that future trips are as ready as possible to hit the ground running when they get here.  I’m happy to see how we’ve set up future groups to easily find housing, translators, parts, NGOs, and anything else.

On a side note, it has been really fun to be working with the e.quinox guys.  They are really fun, and it’s cool to talk about our different experiences growing up and attending college on different sides of the pond.  They also brought back a couple battery boxes from one of their solar kiosks which we had a fun time playing with and asking about.  Next week, I’m going with them to one of their solar kiosks to check it out and help them out with testing.  Check them out at their website http://www.e.quinox.org/.

As a more personal statement, after a lot of ups and downs with the project back on campus and in country, I’m really happy with what we’ve accomplished so far and what we have the potential to do on this trip.  If we are able to fix and update the system in Banda, assess and make designs at several other sites, and maintain good contact with KIST and the Ministry of Infrastructure, this trip will prepare DHE for long-term success!

Joey

Near the city center

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