Posted by: seedfoundation | October 5, 2010

Perspectives from Africa

Ladies and gentlemen this is the next entry in the audio interviews known as ‘Perspectives’.  My second guest is Brandon Little who recently returned from Africa.

E.B. – Hi Brandon, thanks for joining me on the show today.  How are you doing?

B.L. - I’m doing great.

E.B. – I understand you joined the crew a little later because your sister was getting married.  Everyone arrived sometime around August 16th and 17th.  When did you arrive in Tanzania?

B.L. - August 25th.

E.B. – How many of the solar installations were you involved with?

B.L. - I installed [solar installations] seven through thirteen.

E.B. – And you did all the safaris and the Mt. Kilimanjaro climb?

B.L. - Affirmative.

E.B. – And then you stayed a few extra days and went scuba diving in Zanzabar, correct?

B.L. – Sí.

E.B. – How would you describe the state of energy in rural Tanzania and why were the solar installations and LED lamps important for these people?

B.L. - The rural electricity situation is essentially nonexistent.  In a lot of parts you can see power lines right above places that have no power.  The LED lamps and installations are extremely important because right now they pretty much live by the sun.  Which there is nothing really wrong with that, but it cuts their days pretty short.  When it’s dark out, the school day is over.  There is no more studying.  If there is, then it’s with the kerosene lamps.  If it [a kerosene lamp] doesn’t kill them, it makes many people sick every year.  It’s also a fire hazard.

E.B. – I understand the cell phone charging is important too?

B.L. - Everyone has a cell phone.  Even the Massai – every Massai in the middle of Massai country where they rarely see outsiders has a cell phone.  We were in the middle of a Massai wedding and a dude’s cell phone went off <laughs>.

E.B. – How were the OIT students welcomed in Tanzania?

B.L. - Everyone went crazy really.  When they see us, they would get really excited and they always wanted to see what we were doing.  In the Massai country in particular, when we arrived, they had a dinner for us and they did a dance and song for us.  A lot of places would cook for us while we were doing the installs.

E.B. – Were there any rural residents that were familiar with the technology and engineering?

The top of Mt. Kilimanjaro

B.L. - No, not at all.  From my perspective it seemed that no one knew much about it.  Some of the instructors seemed like they knew at least what solar was and what they did, but that’s about it.

E.B. – Will maintenance and troubleshooting, if something goes wrong with the system in the future, be an issue when they have to deal with these systems on their own?

B.L. - Theoretically no because I believe its two years that we have the work guaranteed with the local shops that we went through (as far as the local parts and the labor with the Tanzanian electrician guilds).  They said for two years they would fix any problems.  So if that’s followed through with, then no.  But it’s Africa and you never know if they are willing to drive eight hours to fix something on their own dime.  It’s hard to say.

Brandon and his new friends.

E.B. – Do you think the education at OIT was beneficial to your Africa trip and do you think the Africa trip experience complimented your education at OIT?

B.L. - Most definitely; it was really just applying the knowledge that we’ve obtained.  It was real life problem solving and critical thinking.  It was like, ‘this is what they want, let’s figure out how to provide and install it and make it work for them’.

E.B. – Do you think you will go on another adventure or was this an exclusive excursion for you?

B.L. - I think I will definitely go on another trip.

E.B. – So would you recommend this to other OIT students or students from another school?

Brandon and John joining in with the Massai

B.L. - Indiyo.

E.B. – What?

B.L. - Indiyo, it means ‘yes’ in Swahili.

E.B. – Anything else you want to add?

B.L. - Alejandro.

For more information on Solar HOPE, visit http://www.solar-hope.org/main/

-E.B.

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Responses

  1. Thanks ever so much volunteers from Oregon Institute of Technology’s Renewable Energy Engineering program with professor Slobodan, we really appreciate your work in Tanzania.Your tour in my beautiful country Tanzania with the physical project you implemented it is evidence that energy is provident in reducing poverty and
    improving health, increasing literacy and improving life in general.

    keep on that good job!
    Thanks
    George Mtaki


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