Monday, October 28, 2013

Thankful for my Worries

Carly Demanett reporting

As I got ready for the day this morning, I went through my customary mental to-do list: “Get up…go running…drive to work…go to the post office…buy groceries…make dinner...” My mind was filled with thoughts like, “Should I try a new dinner recipe from one of those magazines I just bought, or go with an old-standby?” Then I got to work.

When I walked into InStove’s office for my internship and began research for a project, suddenly, my worries about dinner seemed very small. I read about women in Ugandan refugee camps living in tents because they fled violence in The Democratic Republic of the Congo. Many of these women’s husbands stayed behind, leaving these women as the sole providers for their families. Even in camps, these women are not guaranteed safety. During the day, they must venture out to search for firewood, either bringing their children with them, or leaving them alone. Depending on the environment surrounding the camp, this can be a time-consuming process, and an extremely hazardous one. Whenever they go out, they risk being attacked, kidnapped, or even killed.

For these women, making dinner is not the pleasant, comfortable experience that it is for me. While I am worrying about recipes and the price of ground beef, these women are living in fear for their safety and that of their children. 

At this point, my worries seemed small and petty, and I was thankful that my internship provides me with reality checks like this one. I have the privilege of being able to drive to a grocery store and pick up whatever I need to make dinner for my family. Then, I can drive back to my safe, comfortable house and cook for them on a stove that doesn’t require me to make a dangerous trek through conflict zones and deforested areas in search of fuel.

I left work today with a new perspective, feeling very thankful for my few “worries.”

InStove is currently working to place our cookstoves in refugee camps throughout Africa. These stoves use up to 90% less wood, allowing women and children to spend less time searching for fuel and more time pursuing other educational and economic opportunities. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Water Pasteurizer is in Zambia!

Nick Moses reporting

The water pasteurizing system set up 
at SOHIP's site in Zambia.
After four plane rides, 37 hours in transit, and more airport meals than I'd like to count, Damon Ogle, Co-founder of InStove and Director of Technology, and I arrived in Ndola, Zambia last Tuesday with all of our water pasteurizing and testing equipment delivered miraculously intact.

Our hosts, Seeds of Hope International Partnerships (SOHIP), have helped us set up our water pasteurizer at their Resource Center in Ndola. This facility serves as a base for sanitation and hygiene training, as well as water filtration and testing technologies, providing us with an ideal group of water-purification experts to aid us in finalizing field testing before the water pasteurizer goes into full production.

Lab staff and interns analyze water samples.
Thanks to constant support from Tauzen, SOHIP's hygiene training manager, and one very dirty local river, we have been able to successful run a series of three E.coli tests in SOHIP's sophisticated water quality testing lab. The river water contained over 100,000 E.coli coliforms per liter (the World Health Organization upper limit for safe drinking water is 100 per liter). Despite this extreme level of contamination, SOHIP's preliminary testing showed effective removal of E.coli and all other bacteria!

With these encouraging results, the next step will be to bring the pasteurizer to a point-of-use testing location where people have no safe source of drinking water. We will visit a rural clinic and maternity ward tomorrow – with a contaminated borehole as their only source of water – to discuss installing the water pasteurizer to bring patients,mothers, and newborn children safe water!

The vials on the left contain river water,
those on the right are pasteurized river water. No E.coli!
With SOHIP's help, we hope to place the system at a site like this for ongoing use and monitoring over the coming months to help prove its value and determine its best application. All of this thorough testing and research will help us make improvements that lead to an even more user-friendly and durable final design that we can deliver around the world to those in need.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

InStove Goes to Washington D.C.

Carly Demanett reporting
Ben Jacobs and Fred Colgan at STAR-TIDES in Washington D.C.

Last week our Executive Director Fred Colgan and board members Ben Jacobs and Lise Colgan traveled to Washington, D.C. for the 7th Annual STAR-TIDES Technology Field Demonstration. The weeklong event was located at the National Defense University campus where staff members connected with representatives of public and private-sector organizations that share the common goal of supplying technology for catastrophe relief.

The InStove team conducted demonstrations of our technologies and forged many new relationships with organizations including the Red Cross, FEMA, and the Department of Defense. The DOD said our stoves could provide a unique way for them to enhance peace-keeping and foreign aid operations around the world.

While in Washington, Fred met with Senator Jeff Merkley to discuss how the Oregon Manufacturing Initiative could help us accomplish our goals of relieveing suffering, improving health, and reducing harm to the environment through our cookstoves. Senator Merkley pledged his support and the support of his staff, to assist InStove in the future. He also said he would like to tour our Cottage Grove manufacturing facility in the near future.

We believe many of the conversations during this past week will evolve into strategic partnerships that will allow us to reach more places with our stoves.

Fred Colgan and Senator Jeff Merkley.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Into the Fold

Carly at a race fundraiser.
 This week, with the start of classes around Lane County, Oregon, InStove welcomes a new class of interns into the InStove fold.

Meet Carly, a University of Oregon student studying general social sciences. She will be working with Stella Strother-Blood as our social media intern. In the past, Carly has worked with the March of Dimes and volunteered with YMCA as a youth soccer coach. Carly brings a vibrant personality and interest in our mission. She will be writing blog and social media posts, and helping us monitor our social media presence.

Meet Jack Hoffman, an environmental studies major from Lane Community College. Jack will be working directly with Adam Creighton as the development intern. Her project will be investigating  writing, and submitting a grant application to support our programs.

Jack enjoying time on the Oregon coast.
"I see what InStove is bring to light - a holistic perspective on rights, health, community and quality of life, "said Jack, "I will do my best to convey these [...] through my grant writing."

Over the past year, a dozen students from five different Oregon schools have contributed over 1,600 volunteer hours to InStove. These interns have dedicated time, knowledge, and passion by representing us at events, writing grants, filming videos, and performing meaningful support work. In return, InStove provides them with a pre-professional experience working for a complex organization with a mission and a conscience.

Welcome Carly and Jack, and thank you to all our intern alumni!