The theme of Monday was hurry up and wait. We woke up early to seize the day, but were delayed after breakfast waiting to coordinate transportation and drivers for the two teams. Once that was settled, the water team went to research the available pumps and piping available here in Rwanda while the cart team headed off to find a soldering gun.
While things were going smoothly for the water team, the cart team popped a tire on their vehicle halfway through the ride. Our driver quickly fixed the situation and we were on our way. We secured the soldering gun and headed to Sunpreme to build the cart.
The water team arrived at Davis and Shirtliff and took inventory of the different types of water pumps available. An employee named Emily Umugwaneza talked the team through the different types of pumps available, including the pros and cons of solar, diesel, and petrol. While solar is more expensive upfront, the cost of diesel and petrol would add up over time. However, during the rainy season, a solar powered pump might not function, leaving the community with no water. After picking up some brochures, the team headed out to look at different pipe types, including HDPE, a type of pipe recommended by Emily that would be more flexible than PVC. Armed with new information about both pipes and pumps, the water team safely returned to Center Christus. The team then went to the Women’s Bakery, a unique patisserie boutique right down the street from Centre Christus, for lunch, where we continued our research.
All the while, the cart team was making headway on the cart assembly. There were 5 different people working on the cart at any given time. All of the cutting, grinding, and welding was a success! By 5pm the cart was successfully fabricated and was ready to be painted at Safintra.
The cart team then brought the cart to Safintra and painted the entire cart a bright, vibrant blue (see photos below). As the sun went down, we pulled out phone flashlights in order to finish painting the cart. The cart couldn’t have been finished on time without the help of Innocent, the welder and painter at Safintra.
After painting, the cart team headed back to Center Christus just in time to meet up with the water team and talk about their days over a nice meal of rice, plantains, delicious soup, and passion fruit.
Tuesday morning came quickly, and by 7:30am, we met our new translators, Blandine and Noella, and loaded up all of our gear before leaving for Safintra, to pick up our painted and finished cart. After a long wait for our invoice, we loaded up the cart and rushed out of there to head to Don Bosco– our new home for the week. We spent the two hour drive out of Kigali mentally preparing for the implementation week ahead.
As we pulled into Don Bosco, the training center for Italian Order priests from neighboring African nations, we were greeted with warm welcomes and a light lunch before the water team headed out to the community to start working. As the water team headed off, the cart team stayed behind to fully assemble the cart for the final time.
Noella, Garrett, and David spent the next six hours working through last minute design challenges to reach their goal of completing the cart by nighttime, and to their relief, the cart worked perfectly on the first test run. While this final assembly was not the cleanest we had done to date due to an accidental circuit shortage, a crazy jungle of wires and connectors, and tired minds, it all worked out as desired. Some more adjustments for waterproofing and sustainability of the cart pieces will be done in the next couple days after test runs are completed with the community.
While the cart team was pushing through their work, the water team (Dr. T, Dr. Doyle, Ben, Megan, Katie, and Blandine) was busy as well. We headed out into the community to gather some data. Dr. Doyle and Katie asked the community question about their goals for the water project, then joined the rest of the team at the water source, where they were knee-deep in mud creating a highly technical mechanism to find the flow rate of the water into the hole, which included a jerry can, a pipe, a shovel, and several hoes. Before leaving the community, the team gathered some water and headed back to Don Bosco to perform water quality tests.
The teams convened after their long days to stay awake long enough to have dinner and see the cart team’s first test run end in success. After the cart test, the team spent some time reflecting on how inspiring and humbling it is to work with a cooperative who is so resilient and dedicated to permanently improving their community. It was a very productive day for everyone, but the hectic, implementation week ahead was just warming up.
Wednesday morning started much much earlier than desired. Breakfast was served at 7am, with a 7:30am departure to community. Once we were on the road everybody was excited to get their hands dirty and spend time with our community. Once we arrived, we greeted everyone and jumped straight into a quick community meeting, where we explained what both the water and cart teams would be up to today, and gave the CO-OP some photos we had printed for them. Following this, the water team investigated the borehole flow rate and the new cart was delivered.
The water team had the chance to speak with the sector engineer, Sixbert, who had been working on the project, and brought him down to the borehole. At the borehole, Sixbert described his plan for transporting the water to the co-operative property. He mentioned he would be completing his engineering degree this year. After speaking with the sector engineer, our team quickly realized this was a great opportunity to share our knowledge and complete this project with his help.
After speaking with the engineer, the water team began surveying the trench that we helped dig on Umaganda day. With the help of the community, we were able to calculate the elevation of the trench line using an Abney level. With this calculation, the overall head loss could be calculated and we should be able to determine correct pump size.
While the water team started their work for the day, the cart team started by checking in on the old cart, the solar panel, and evaluating for any damages that needed to be addressed. To their delight, the old cart was working like a charm, and all of the components had held up well. This meant a lot for the team because we had learned that the cart was driven off of a cliffside coming down the trail earlier that year. The handle was broken in the process and the battery box opened up. But the electrical components did not budge or break, and the community fixed the handle by relocating the bolts and bending the handles out to make this fit–an ingenious move by the co-op.
After this, the cart team delivered the new cart to the community and showed them the ins and outs of maintenance and operation, which carried over nicely from the previous cart.
To end the day, the entire EWB team spent some time reflecting on what we are grateful for, including the opportunities available to us and the impact the trip is having on us emotionally. Despite the exhaustion of every day, the team is feeling hopeful for the future of the project and proud of the work our team and the community have done so far.
For the rest of the week, both teams will be making progress on their respective projects in community. The water team plans to finish surveying, measure the roofs of the buildings for rainwater catchment, and ask some additional interview questions. The cart team will spend their time making small adjustments on the cart, including changing the wiring of the charge controller, moving the location of the bolts for the middle belly pan, and adding rubber inner tubes to protect the bearings of the castor wheels. The cart team will also ask some interview questions about the use of the old and the new cart.
Check out our new vlog here and stay tuned for more updates.
The EWB Travel team