Classroom Relocation Project

Building a classroom is no small task, but the Global Innovation team is up to it! Last week, after consulting with Mwang’ombe, the team was generously offered many materials from the TBI campus to conduct their project. Metal and plywood was provided from the TBI Ileret facility and TBI staff offered to help with welding and construction of the wall. With metal, paint, wood, hammers, and screws packed, the team made their way to the school.

Metal bars for building the wall frame. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

Loading up. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

Once the team arrived at the school, they unloaded all of the materials into the dormitory.

Moving equipment into the building. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

Saffron and Alan had the vision of making the space more welcoming and enjoyable for the students to use. They borrowed paint from TBI to add a new coat to the interior of the dormitory.

Getting ready to paint. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

Brent (left to right), Saffron, and Alan adding a splash of color to the classroom. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

In between painting, workers from TBI began to create the wall dividers for the different classrooms. The global innovators had five pieces of plywood from TBI available to create the wall dividers. With their original design of three classrooms separated by two wall dividers, the team had to compromise on how much material they could allocate to each wall. Luckily, Madame Hilda, the Head Teacher, decided to temporarily fuse two classes into one to optimize the setup of the classrooms. Now, the innovators would be able to dedicate all their resources to one wall divider to maximize space and noise reduction for each classroom.

Cutting the metal to size. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

An angle section stud ready for use. Photo credit Alan Guo

Welded into place. Photo credit Alan Guo

TBI staff, Paul Ewoi(left) and Ngetich Joseph(right) support with all the metal work and construction on site

The divider is attached to trusses, which are the major supports for the roof. They provide a frame to attach the divider to the building’s structure. The wall divider is not meant to hold up any load but must be able to support its own weight and handle external forces such as students bumping into or hitting it.  In order to accomplish this, vertical beams and horizontal supports are placed along the wall in a ‘T’ formation,  (bars that go from ceiling to the floor which prevent vertical motion and horizontal bars that stop horizontal motion). This layout keeps the metal bars from buckling under the weight of the wall and allows for the wall to stand stationary.

Design drawing. Photo credit Alan Guo

Welding the frame. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

The frame in progress. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

Setting up the plywood. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

The divider in progress. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

The complete wall divider. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

A brand new look. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu


Garbage Collection & Bone Charcoal

A local church in Ileret. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

This week, Wen and Jake brought the team to a second church in Ileret to advocate for the garbage collection program. As it turns out, one of the members of the TBI staff, Baryo, leads the church and helped welcome the group. The team introduced themselves to the members of the church and showed appreciation for being a part of their beautiful service.

Baryo welcomes the group to the church. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

With the aid of Koriye, one of locals helping implement the project, Wen and Jake invite members to join them in cleaning up waste in Ileret. The church goers are outspoken about their curiosity in the program. There is clear interest in expanding the program to other areas in their community.

Koriye(left to right), Wen, and Jake speak to the church members. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

After the service, the team goes on their first garbage collection expedition. When they arrive at the meeting point, droves of children bombard them ready for action. Gloves and boxes are handed out to collect the items and the program starts. The global innovators and locals alike eagerly grab trash, bones, and other materials; the boxes are filled to the brim in moments.

The Global Innovation team and the locals collect the trash. Photo credit Deming Yang

Jake, Rodrigo, Keena, and Wen search for waste around the town. Photo credit Deming Yang

There is a word in Swahili that best describes the experience of the day called “Pamoja,” (Pah-moe-jah),  which means “together.” As hands exchanged tattered cloth, plastic bottles, and old metal cans, the barrier of culture and language quickly melted; the feeling of pamoja in the air. The locals and the team worked diligently for no other purpose than to make a difference in a community they care about.

We are in this together. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

The group sorts through and separates the trash. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

The team is elated that the project is going full speed ahead. Currently, the town handles their trash by either burning or burying it- something the team hopes can be replaced with more sustainable methods in the future and in their long term project.

Mike from the TBI staff joins in. Photo credit Deming Yang

A pit of trash no longer left in the village. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu


Wastewater Management

Part two of implementation begins. The team got an incredible workout as they continued progress on their wastewater system. Sweat beaded their brows as they shoved shovels in the landscape behind the clinic. The team observed that the sun had previously weathered  exposed piping. Because of this, the pair decided that the three oil drums that would act as hubs for the waste to be percolated into the Earth had to be placed underground. In a wastewater treatment lecture, Professor Rodrigo educated students on the natural system by which soil and Earth filters out waste. Wastewater plants in the United States take advantage of this to treat some of the waste that comes out of households each day.  Wastewater is sent deep into the ground where it is filtered over time by natural bacteria in soil. Aquifers, underground natural cavities that fill with this water, are tapped into as a source of drinking water.

In order to percolate water underground, holes were placed on the surface of the oil drums.

Perforated oil drum cut by TBI staff. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

If the water is not sent underground, contaminants will get to surface and can spread. Rain also causes an incredible amount of erosion in the area which would make the system obsolete if out in the open- another reason to place the system underground.

Giancarlos and Keena help dig. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

Joe attaches the wastewater system to the clinic’s piping. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

By contrast the team isn’t using a reclamation process as done in the US because, as far as is known, there aren’t strong aquifers that accumulate in Ileret. Joe and Addison’s project is meant to keep contaminants from riddling the soil and pooling onto the surface in the surrounding area.

The team uses a water bottle as a level to adjust the oil drums to slope downwards from the building to allow flow of wastewater. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

During the process of implementation everything was going according to plan. Professor Rodrigo checks in on the group and adds last minute adjustments to the project.  The displaced soil around the oil drums will settle over time. Because the system can be disrupted by this settling process, extra measures need to be taken. To adapt the system to the area, the team connects the oil drums and piping with wire to keep the system altogether. A special point to note: each of these projects purposely used materials that are, for the most part, only available within the Ileret area. This is to make sure no projects would have unsustainable material that can’t be maintained or would force locals to rely on an import of more material or tools; both expensive and hard to obtain.

Adapting to the environment using innovation. Photo credit Joseph Kocaj

Lastly, they compacted the soil by foot, (with a very unique form of the rain dance), to keep it from settling.

Rodrigo and Joe Compacting

Joe and Addison were informed by Beatrice, the head nurse, that some of the issues they’ve been having with their wastewater systems occurred because there were locals that had tampered with the system when it was out in the open. To put the finishing touches on the project, the crew had to make sure that long term, the system would be protected from outside influences such as overly curious people in the neighborhood or animals.

Patting down the soil after the drums are buried. Photo credit Giancarlos Llanos Romero

Joe takes a look at the system. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

Adding protective measure to the open oil drum. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

Complete! Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

At the end of the week, the students gave presentations, proposals, and videos covering their projects and reflected the work they had done in the past two weeks.



In the second round with the roof bats, the group came up with new strategies to the problem. The first was to smoke out the bats in a similar method as before. Mwang’ombe, one of the senior TBI staff, welded metals together to create a more suitable stand for the smoke apparatus. Currently, the storage building has many access points for bats to enter. They can be quite small and fit within tiny cracks and crevices between the roof and top off the building.

Metal frames for the project made by Mwang’ombe. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

Keena fans the flame to smoke out the bats

There are also various windows with missing glass panes, as well as openings on doors where bats can make quick entrances in the building. To make sure they cover all bases, the team uses chicken wire as a protector against the bats. The wire is placed in the window and door areas where bats can enter. Also, replacement window panes are added to windows to provide another line of defense from bats or any intruders who might try to get inside.

Julian replaces glass on the storage building. Photo credit Deming Yang

Keena and Julian put up chicken wire on the window. Photo credit Deming Yang

The team realized that air was escaping from some of the ventilation in the building and blocked it with cardboard. After 6 bats flew out, there were still a persistent few left in the building. Because of their tenacity, it was decided that it would be best block off cracks and crevices in the building and stop more bats from entering in the future.


Thinking Long Term

In the past week, a tradition started from the long-term project created by Saffron. Saffron had the idea to create instruments for students in the community using trash and reusable materials. During site visits, Saffron gained support from her team and some of the local children in collecting plastic bottles, glass bottles, old pipes, and other materials that could be used as musical instruments. At one of the site visits last week, the team got together with local students and created music using bones and plastic bottles.

Music to my ears! Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

Rodrigo was also inspired by batucada, which is a Brazilian-style percussion ensemble.  In batucada each individual has a role in creating a rhythm or different sounds which adds to the overall musical arrangement. From this idea, the team has started spontaneous musical ensembles in car rides and at the dinner table. Along with this long-term project, Wen and Saffron have decided to jumpstart an initiative to create a music club at the local primary school in Ileret. Saffron and Wen observed that many of the girls don’t have outlets or activities to play after classes unlike boys who play activities such as soccer/football. The two hope to gear musical instruments to students with a particular focus on girls. The group made it a habit to play music with the students whenever they were in town and found that the local children clearly have lots of rhythm and enjoy music. The team plans on attending the school again to promote the club to the Head Teacher and create more musical moments with the local students.



The sun rolls down

To end another inspirational and fulfilling week, the team gathers with staff and continues their musical tradition around a bonfire!


Rodrigo gets the rhythm going. Photo credit Cheng-Wen Hsu

Gather around the campfire and sing our campfire song… Photo credit Deming Yang