Friday, May 20, 2016

SL in Rwanda - Gashora

A propeller plane made by Bombardier of Canada, operated by Rwanda Air, taking off from Entebbe in Uganda, to take me - a Hong Konger, to Kigali in Rwanda, flying over Lake Victoria and Tanzania, to our 2016 service-learning projects in Rwanda.  

We have a new project in Gashora this year, 1.5 hours south of Kigali, in collaboration with University of Pennsylvania.  Gashora Girls Academy is a top high school in Rwanda, recruiting the best girls from across the country, teaching them science and sending many of them to top universities overseas.  One of the girls, in the second cohort, graduated from GGS in 2015, completed her first year at University of Pennsylvania, and is back with the Penn team this summer.  One of the projects this year is to improve the computer network at GGS.  

Nearby is a primary school endowed with 100+ OLPCs (One Laptop Per Child).  We will install a file server with lots of e-learning material, connected to a wireless router linked to the Internet with a SIM card.  It gives the school the option to connect to the Internet for a fee, or to operate it as a self-contained Internet-in-a-box without actually connecting to the “Internet”.  

In a nearby clinic, there is a water collection and filtration system installed by Emory University.  Water is collected from gutters on the roof and stored in a tank underground.  It is then filtered and chlorinated for use.  Unfortunately, it does not work when it does not rain, which lasts more than half of the year.   U Penn plans to install a pipe and a solar-powered pump to bring water from the lake, 1.5 kilometre away, to the storage tank.  

One of the pitfalls of this kind of system is the variation in the water level in the like.  A similar, but much smaller system installed by Penn last year is now partially submerged by the unexpectedly high water level this year. 

There is much work to do. 

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