Hi everyone! My name is Pranav Badami and I'm going to be blogging on the team's behalf while they are in Sierra Leone. I am a sophomore and joined the Sierra Leone team as a freshman. Many of you may not have met me, as I was unable to attend meetings Spring semester due to scheduling issues, but I'm definitely looking forward to joining the team again this coming year. Good luck to the Team doing their thing in Sierra Leone and see you soon!
Hey friends! My name is Katie, and I can’t begin to describe how excited I am for this long-anticipated trip. As this is only my first year in EWB, every twist and turn in the process has been a learning experience and made me hold tremendous respect for the group leaders and everyone that plays even a tiny role in getting this trip underway. I get a little bit anxious thinking about all the possibilities, and problems, we may encounter. However, that only makes me more thankful for my team and the preparation we have done leading up to this trip. I know we will be prepared for anything, and our minds are open for what this community has to tell us and what we can do for it. I have the feeling that the benefits will flow in both directions.
Hi everyone! My name is Christine and I am incredibly excited to be traveling to Sierra Leone this summer with Mike, Steph, and Katie. Since joining Engineers Without Borders at the beginning of my freshman year, this organization and its people have constantly inspired me and driven my passion for international development. This will be my first time in Sierra Leone, but hopefully not my last. Seeing this trip come to fruition has been a wonderful experience -a culmination of the work we've been doing for the last two years.
Three years in the making, I'm finally on my first trip to Sierra Leone. I'm the old guy on the project who still remembers the planning for the last trip our group made to Koidu two summers ago to install solar panels on the Wellbody Alliance Health Clinic there. This trip will be much different. We're returning for a pre-assessment trip, meaning that we are going to establish community contacts and decide which needs in the area are most pressing and appropriate for us to address. That translates to a three week trip with a pretty wide open itinerary. We're going to have a lot of freedom to adjust our work to what we find, which is incredibly exciting but also a bit frustrating for my planning purposes.
As the only senior on this project, and after spending a year and a half as a Project Manager of the team, seeing this trip happen is quite rewarding. From my time freshman year reading the local newspapers every day online to my time this summer testing out our bacteria plates for well water testing and gps unit for map making, I've put in a lot of effort to prepare for this pre-assessment. I know this will also all but certainly be my last trip, and I want to see my two year term of project management conclude with a successful application to establish this project as official EWB-USA program. The conversations I've had with residents of town and volunteers who have traveled there working with the clinic have convinced me that we will be able to help this region continue to recover from the lingering effects of the civil war which was waged there.
With only two weeks until the trip left, Christine and I braved a thunderstorm to gather water samples from indoor and outdoor locations around campus. The petrifilm test kits we received from 3M were put through the full set of methods we plan to use on the pre-assessment trip including 24 hour incubation next to the body (wrapping them in a bandana goes a long way for comfort). We went to a variety of spots including the Woody Woo fountain, a toilet in the men's room in the Lewis Library Lobby, and Lake Carnegie. The good news for all of you who like to take a dip in the Woody Woo fountain is that we didn't find any bacteria. On the other hand, stay away from the lake water. Coliform levels there exceeded US regulations for adequate drinking water. The results appeared fairly precise based on multiple plates we made at each site.
We're going to be putting more frequent updates on the blog in the days leading up to the trip, and hopefully more while we're over in SL depending on our internet access. Some may be more technical, and others will likely just capture our experiences while traveling and getting to understand the communities around Koidu.