2019: Days 1-2

Greetings from Kigali!

We arrived on Tuesday evening to a warm welcome from Father Innocent, who is our everything. He organizes transport, lodging, some meals, gives the best hugs, inspires us, and we would be lost without him.

On Wednesday morning, we got off to an early start and headed out into Kigali to pick up SIM cards, exchange cash, and print some technical drawings of the cart to take to the welder. In the afternoon, Garrett, David, Dr. T, and Ben went to Safintra, a sheet metal roofing company. After an intense meeting with the head of the business in which the team had two minutes to explain our project, the head of the business agreed to help us because our mission resonated with him.

However, all of our technical drawings had been done in US conventions, and upon meeting with the welder, Innocent, we decided to redo the drawings so they were more like Ikea drawings than shop drawings. Additionally, Safintra did not have the right tube steel sizes, so we needed to redimension the drawings. The internet was too slow to use remote access to edit the CAD files, so we spent all evening drawing out the plans by hand. We created a streamlined format that outlined what to cut, numbers of each component to cut, and broke out the assembly into multiple sketches. This took us 4-6 hours of work, and the night ended in total delirium (see our youtube channel, which we will be updating at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEL62eLgbQ1SyLTtpu9zImg), with a nearly completed set of drawings ready for a final review with Dr. T and Dr. Doyle in the morning.

After a late night, we had an even earlier start the next morning. The team split up: David, Garrett, and Dr. T went to Safintra with the updated drawings, while Megan, Katie, Ben, and Dr. Doyle were offered the opportunity to head out to the community a few days earlier than planned, as Father Innocent had to check in with the CO-OP.

The cart team, accompanied by Amani, our long-time translator, showed up to Safintra soon after they opened to meet with the Sales Manager to go over pricing. Upon meeting him, he said that there was not a welder in house (even though we met their welder the day before) and that they did not have our updated requested hollow tube size in stock for the cart (even though we saw it on the workshop floor the day before as well). His uncertainty with the feasibility of our edited drawings had the team feeling doubtful. However, once he called in Innocent, the welder, hope was restored as Innocent clarified the misunderstandings and got started on the cart right away.

The cart team then went off to a different workshop in Kigali to try and get the solid transaxle clamps manufactured–pieces that Safintra could not make in house with the rest of the cart due to their lack of machinery. We arrived at the “workshop” suggested to us to find that it was a car repair shop, and after thirty minutes, realized that they had no clue what we wanted and how to get it made. One of the men there took us aside and told us he’d take us to the “factory” that could make our part. After walking a ways to meet a new taxi, we drove off to Sunpreme, our saving grace that we wished we knew about from the beginning. Sunpreme had every type of metal working machine you could imagine!

The water team arrived in Nyange and found the CO-OP was finishing the foundation to their pit toilets and accompanying septic tank, which was unexpected, as we didn’t know they were that far along on this project. After the team greeted the community members, Callixte, Epiphania, and Father Innocent took the water team down to see the hole the community has dug in order to pump water from the valley up to the CO-OP building. The team was surprised to find out that on Saturday, the CO-OP plans to dig the trench for the pipeline for Umaganda Day. We staked a potential path from the water source to the CO-OP, and gave them the two community books (one of which contains photos from EWB at SCU, and the other which contains photos of them from previous years of travel). They really enjoyed looking over the books, and finding themselves as well as travelers they recognized.

Today, David and Garrett will return to Safintra to view the partially completed cart and drop it off at Sunpreme, the workshop which agreed to machine the transaxle clamps and fold the sheet metal battery box.

The water team plans to spend time figuring out the best path forward with the water project, given the new information we learned yesterday.

The team also plans to join the CO-OP in Nyange for Umaganda Day on Saturday, where we will be able to ask some clarifying questions about the water project, what the community wants from it, and what EWB needs to help with.

Murabeho (Goodbye),

The EWB Travel Team