em(POWER) energy group, inc.

em[POWER] seeks to revitalize waste scavenging communities throughout the world using a modular and scalable cooperative development model based on renewable resources. By coordinating and streamlining the waste utilization process of waste scavengers, the em[POWER] model will improve the sorting efficiency of recyclables, turn organic waste and waste water into electricity, creation of high quality compost, and provide the nucleus for a host of community-owned businesses. This will in turn provide community access to electricity, enhance educational opportunities, improve local health, and raise worker wages, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and waste overflow. By having a series of ...
Dec 16, 2014

Em[POWER] Board Member Visit to Project Bangladesh

Em[POWER] Energy Group Bangladesh
Travel Report 11.02.14

Em[POWER] Energy Group’s site in Bangladesh is located on the outskirts of Matuail Landfill in Dhaka. It is the largest landfill in this country and measures to be 100 acres. I sat down with Director, Maksud A.K.M. and, Project Manager, Reza Khan from the Grambangla Unnayan Committee who run em[POWER] Energy Group’s project at this site. Maksud also has projects including the Grambangla Nursery and the Grambangla School for the children of informal recyclers, a campaign to provide informal recyclers with better tools and knowledge about safety and health, an environmental section run by informal recyclers and a woman’s waste picking co-op.

There are 2000 informal recyclers at Matuail Landfill and 75% of them are women. There are always 400-500 informal recyclers in the landfill. This means that a informal recycler will work a 12 hour shift while a family member rests, and then the ‘rester’ replaces the worker, and the cycle continues, so most families have someone working in the landfill at all times. There are times when people need a few days off to rest because the working conditions are very harsh. One waste picker can make 150-200 taka ($1.89-$2.52) in one day alone. If the family has a shanty next to the landfill, then they are required to pay 50 Taka a day for rent to keep their space.

When I first looked into the landfill, it was hard to imagine what could possibly be valuable enough there for thousands of people to become so reliant on it. A closer look at the piles they extract from the trash, revealed pieces of plastic, bones, and rubber soles. It’s not much but it proves how resourceful these people have become to survive. What comes into this landfill appears to be mere scraps because there are about 2000 small depositories throughout the city and trash is collected in different regions and dumped into these large sized dumpsters. Often, people have already picked the more valuable items out of these containers before they are brought to the landfill. This makes a majority of the Matuail Landfill organic waste. I remember the landfill was very mushy and the methane was so strong that it stung my eyes.

The Grambangla Nursery has 2 staff members caring for 30 children ages 2-5. There are about 100 more children in need of care but the budget can only provide for those 30. At the Grambangla School there are 3 teachers and 80-110 students ages 6-12 years in grades 1-3. This number changes due to graduates, the number coming in, and dropouts. Sometimes children realize they are able to sell trash for candy and this has been a cause of diversion away from the school. When students graduate there is an intervention to encourage them to find life beyond the landfill and it’s perimeters. The woman’s co-op exists because it is known that these woman are going to be working out of the landfill anyway. The co-op provides more organization and tools to contribute to health and safety. They are also fed, as are their children in either the daycare or school. Em[POWER] Energy Group partly funds and oversees these projects, and they support the environmental sector that is still in development.

Currently, composting of organic waste is used to pot plants. The plants are sold at a market to help support the project. This part of the Environmental sector seems to be successful.

There is a blue composting barrel but it is still a work in progress. It is not producing the rich compost that it was expected to do because of the air to soil ratio. This project has been put aside for the moment and composting is better held in the direct ground.

A wastewater into Biogas tank was installed but that project is on hold until it can be taught how to use it in order to create propane. Money was used to set it up but there was no training on how to use it.

For the recycling center, the old center was built and then abandoned due to an increase in rent. Now a new recycling area is being created closer to the rest of the other environmental projects. This area is still being made and there are no signs of sorting occurring here yet.

Em[POWER] Energy Group works in 3 phases.
1. Creating partnerships.
2. Assessing the needs of the local people and how they can be helped with Environmental, Educational and Healthcare Programs.
3. Conducting Environmental projects to make the local people become self-sustaining.

Em[POWER] Bangladesh is in Phase 3 with building and executing plans. However, during this phase, projects are still working to become successful. A site audit and report is necessary to understand the projects direction.


The Environmental part of this project has been set up, but is currently either lacking or stagnate. Further attention is needed in this department in order for Phase 3 to sustain itself. Funding was used to create this initial module, but in order for it to continue there would need to be more funding and direction for the areas that are not working.

As a whole, Phase 1 and 2 are holding together. Phase 3 has a baseline, but it's foundation appears to be in a more elementary state. Where this project is taken next from this stage is what needs to be determined next. 

Aug 4, 2014

Em[POWER] Project Bangladesh: Full Model In Effect

Em[POWER] Energy Group Project Bangladesh - 2014 Progress Report in partnership with GUC


Background of the Project

Waste pickers, an informal group of people engaged in searching, sorting, processing and selling of municipal wastes for their livelihood. Scavenging is a free occupation and way of self-employment of the poor children, women and men from the poorest section of urban population in Bangladesh. Almost all the waste pickers have come from rural areas because of poverty, injustice and disaster driven push migration. Currently around 400,000 people live on scavenging in Bangladesh.[1] As the beneficial friends of urban environment now these waste pickers are the main contributor in reducing waste and promoting recycling. Business of waste collection, segregation, cleaning and recycling requires lots of efforts by the waste pickers and all these tasks are done at the cost of huge human sufferings and risks of health hazards of the poor waste pickers who were mostly children and women. Waste pickers are the main actor for reducing, reusing and recycling of the wastes for the national interest. These waste pickers are in need of and deserve rights to getting benefits for their efforts in reducing, reusing and recycling of the wastes.

Since independence of Bangladesh in 1971, the urban population has grown at an average annual rate of 6% against the overall national growth of 2.2%. From a total of 20.8 million people in 1991, the country’s urban population increased to 28.6 million in 2001.[2] Because of rapid urbanization the country’s urban population is expected to reach 89.5 million (from 39.5 million in 2005) by 2030.[3] It is estimated that approximately 13,332 tons of waste is produced per day in the urban areas of Bangladesh, which is over 4.86 million tons annually. It is projected that this amount will grow up to 47,000 tons/day and close to 17.2 million tons per year by 2025, due to growth both in population and the increase in per capita waste generation. Based on the present total urban population, per capita waste generation rate is found at 0.41 kg/capita/day in urban area.[4]

The disposal and treatment of waste can produce emissions of several greenhouse gases (GHGs), which contribute to global climate change. The most significant GHG gas produced from waste is methane. It is released during the breakdown of organic matter in landfills. Other forms of waste disposal also produce GHGs but these are mainly in the form of carbon dioxide (a less powerful GHG). Waste prevention and recycling help address global climate change by decreasing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and saving energy. In this regards, establishment of composting site and anaerobic digester will help reduce emission of GHGs. 

Grambangla Unnayan Committee (GUC), a non-government, non-profit voluntary development organization working with the waste picker community at Matuail Sanitary Landfill since May 2009. em(POWER) Energy Group, Inc. USA, an American organization is willing to raise funds for some research and development activities to be implemented through GUC for human development of the waste pickers through transforming waste into resources.

The project will aim to explore the situation of waste recycling and prospects of more businesses for the waste pickers in recycling and to develop a participatory planning for understanding and improving the current waste stream, improving efficiency for recyclable sorting, collection of organic wastes for waste-to-energy initiative from the manual driven waste carrying vans, turning organic waste into biogas and electricity and high quality compost.

Rationale of the Project

Waste traditionally has been seen having no value. Traditionally ‘valueless’ streams of waste can be considered as resources for a new tier of the economy. They can be reduced, reused and recycled  through greater efficiency and management at every stage of production and consumption.

Towns and cities of Bangladesh, which are hubs of rapid economic development and population growth, generate thousands of tons of waste from domestic, industrial, commercial, health care facilities and agricultural sources that must be managed daily. Low collection coverage, unavailable transport services, and lack of suitable treatment, recycling and disposal facilities are responsible for unsatisfactory waste management, leading to water, land and air pollution, and for putting people and the environment at risk. At present there is no guideline or rules available for management of solid waste in the country. No incentive or support is available from government to promote and support cleaner production practices amongst the industries.

This project will also facilitate the waste pickers for collecting and sorting of wastes in a safer environment to promote livelihood for a large number of the urban poor and advocate for waste picker rights. This project will facilitate the waste pickers’ efforts to earn their livelihoods through reusing and recycling of waste, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This project will help build capacities of the waste pickers and small enterprises engaged in waste collection.

This Initiative for will considerably contribute to climate change mitigation efforts of Bangladesh by conserving resources, saving energy, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, this initiative will also help create more jobs for the urban poor especially the waste pickers and strengthen economy. Thus this initiative will help build a more just and fair society for waste pickers.

Purpose of this project

em[POWER] Project Bangladesh seeks to revitalize the waste picking community of Bangladesh using a modular and scalable cooperative development model based on renewable resources.
By coordinating and streamlining the waste utilization process of waste pickers, the em[POWER] model will explore the situation of waste recycling and prospects of more businesses for the waste pickers in recycling and to develop a participatory planning for improving the sorting efficiency of recyclables, collection of organic wastes for waste-to-energy initiative from the manual driven waste carrying vans, turning organic waste into biogas and/or electricity and high quality compost, providing the nucleus for a host of community-owned businesses. Earnings from the social business of waste recycling will in turn be invested for improved community access to energy (gas, electricity etc.), enhance educational opportunities, increase businesses of waste recycling and composts, improve local health, and raise worker wages, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and waste overflow. 

Objectives of the Project

The board objective of the action research is to alleviate poverty situation through adopting some innovative approaches for transforming wastes into resources of the waste pickers in Dhaka City.

The specific objectives of the project are as follows:

  1. To develop a system for separation of wastes at household level and collection of organic wastes for waste-to-energy initiative from the manual driven waste carrying vans
  2. To transform organic waste into biogas and electricity.
  3. To transform organic waste into high quality compost.
  4. To develop a nursery business using composts produced by organic wastes
  5. To develop and use an appropriate recycling technology for producing and marketing of household plastic products i.e. developing a social business
  6. To improve efficiency in sorting by the waste pickers’ cooperative members to reduce waste and to promote their livelihoods
  7. To explore and document the situation of waste recycling and recycling technologies in Bangladesh
  8. To understand the prospects of more businesses for the waste pickers through recycling

Activities of the Project

To achieve the objectives of the project the following activities will be carried out:

                    i.      Implementation of a system for separation of household waste at the source (household, shop, industry etc.) with the help of 5 waste collection van owners and 10 waste pickers;

                  ii.      Organizing community meetings and distributing information, education and communication materials (leaflets, posters and billboard etc.) to promote behavior change regarding source separation of wastes at households

                iii.      Establishing a small anaerobic digester for turning organic wastes into biogas and electricity and high quality compost;

                iv.      Development of a nursery business using composts produced by organic wastes

                  v.      Development and use of appropriate recycling technologies for producing and marketing of household recycled paper products from recycled paper (social business of recycled paper)

                vi.      Sorting of waste materials collected by the waste pickers’ cooperative members to reduce waste and to promote their livelihoods

              vii.      Organizing monthly meetings of the waste picker cooperative members

            viii.      Documentation of current situation of waste recycling, waste recycling technologies and  business of recycling sector in Bangladesh

Immediate Outcomes of the Project 

The major immediate outputs of the project will be as follows:

  i.      1 anaerobic digester i.e. waste-to-energy plant established and operated for capturing methane gas, using the gas for power generation to support with energy the  school, daycare centre and other social initiatives of GUC;

  1. Required volume of organic waste procured through collection of source separated wastes for anaerobic digester;
  2. 5 Environmental Clubs facilitated to form to organize 20 meetings at 20 local schools/community on separation of waste at household level, environment promotion and mitigating climate change effects and
  3. 10 Meetings organized with 5 entrepreneurs of 5 eco-enterprises and its 10 workers engaged in household waste collection & disposal to help change behavior of the household members in separating waste at the source (household)
  4. A network of eco-enterprises (household level waste collection organizations) formed
  5. 5000 leaflet distributed for education campaign for separation of waste at the source (household, shop, industry etc.) for 5000 households organized
  6. 1000 poster posted on common places, schools, restaurants on separation of waste at household level
  7. 1 composting sites established and business of organic fertilizer promoted by the waste pickers’ cooperatives
  8. 1 plant nursery established using compost fertilizer
  9. A business of plants in tubs using compost promoted by the waste pickers’ cooperative
  10. Emission of Green House Gases (GHGs) reduced through reduce, reuse and recycle of wastes
  11. 1 cooperative for composting and recycling business formed by the waste pickers
  12. 1 recycling centers established and recycling business promoted by the waste pickers’ cooperative
  13. 25 waste pickers utilized the sorting facilities for improving their efficiency and promoting earnings;
  14. 1 small industry established  for social business i.e. for producing recycled paper through paper recycling
  15. Marketing of recycled paper made by recycled paper by waste pickers’ cooperative
  16. 1 advocacy workshop with the Dhaka City Corporation, Directorate of Environment, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Bangladesh Bank on “National 3R Strategy and transformation of organic wastes into gas and compost fertilizer” to facilitate in establishing and operating the anaerobic digester.  

 Project Area

The project area will be one of the garbage dumping sites of DhakaCity Corporation i.e. Matuail Sanitary Landfill and its nearby areas.

Progress of 1st Quarter 

8.1 Establishment of Anaerobic Digester: The purpose of this activity is to establish a anaerobic digester i.e. waste-to-energy plant and to operate it for capturing methane gas, using the gas for power generation to support with energy the  school, daycare centre and other social initiatives of GUC. The design of the anaerobic digester was shared with the em[POWER] team earlier. Following the design in mind we explored the sources for procuring materials for construction of a portable anaerobic digester since the land is rented and not owned by GUC. Primary we discussed with the IDCOL team in Dhaka to know their experiences and we discussed twice with Mr. Wahidur Rahman, the Head of Technical Division, IDCOL. After first time discussion with Mr. Wahidur Rahman we discussed with the Factory Manager of Madina Tank Company and Aqua Tank Company to construct a tank which will be hard enough and that do not deform after emission of biogas from the tank (anaerobic digester). In this regard we organized another meeting with Mr. Wahidur Rahman, the Head of Technical Division, IDCOL and Mr. Zafor Ahamed, Senior Executive of Madina Tank Company. Generally the tank producers in Bangladesh use uPVC [Unplasticized poly(vinyl chloride)] in tank production so it is not so hard to keep its form unchanged. Madina Tank used High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) long with uPVC in production of our tank to make it hardy than usual. IDCOL reported that in Netherlands HDP is used for production of tanks for using in biogas plant. We ordered Madina Tank to produce a 2000 litre tank and they took 15 days to deliver it after production.

We have received the tanks to be used in anaerobic digester at our site. During production the project manager of GUC (Mr. Reza) visited the factory at Gazipur to bore two holes on the tank to be used as outlet and inlet of the digester. The holes are of 5 cm diameter each, one is at the bottom and another is at the location where the outlet pipe will be connected. Around 80 percent space of this tank (1600 litres) will be used for kitchen waste and water and rest of the 20 percent space (400 litres) will be used for gas holder. It will take another one week to fix the inlet and outlet pipe and arrange initial works for gas production.

The ratio of kitchen waste and water will be 1: 1.2. At the first day 877 litre water and 727 kg of kitchen waste as initial charger in the tank. After that everyday 4 kg of kitchen waste and 6 liter of water will be added through inlet. We will have to maintain the pH level at around 7 (6.5 – 7.5) so that the mixture does not be alkaline or acidic. We will also avoid alkaline (soap, detergent etc.) or acidic (lemon) content to add with kitchen waste. We will ensure fresh water from the nearby tube well to add.      

8.2 Collection of organic waste: We have established three channels of collecting waste e.g. segregated kitchen waste from the waste dumping site, segregated waste from the waste van and vegetable wastes from whole sale vegetable market. Sometimes the Landfill authority shows their non-cooperation attitude to give us waste so we have other options of collecting waste for using in anaerobic digester and composting.

8.3 Establishment of composting site to produce organic manure: A composting site has been established to produce organic manure from kitchen wastes. We have constructed two structure for composting. One is 3 piles of 4ft. x 4ft. x 4ft. each and another one is a drum composting mixer. 

8.4 Plant nursery using compost: The plant nursery has been established using the compost produced in the composting site established by the project. Currently there are 400 samplings have been planted in earthen tubs. We will start marketing of the plants with tubs from the next month by a manually driven van. The van will be procured in the next month. The waste pickers’ cooperative will sell those samplings and make profit for developing their social business and for developing capital for social business.

8.5 Social business of recycled paper: The Composting Technician-cum- Nursery Caretaker was sent to a recycling paper production centre of Mennonite Central Committee at Mymonsingh for 15 days to have practical experiences of production of recycled paper and production of products from that recycled paper. We are now in the process of setting up the recycled paper production cell. 

8.6 Promotion of recycling business by the waste picker women through utilization of sorting facilities: The sorting facility is being used by the 25 woman waste pickers. This facility is helping 25 waste pickers to sort their collected materials at their own place. These waste pickers now are not bound to sell their collected materials to the shop owners at a low cost where they earlier used to sort their collected materials using the front space of the recycling shops.


[1] Maksud A K M (2010). An Action Research for Adapting Kajoli Model Pre-School Activities to Create Early Learning Opportunities for the Child Laborers, Grambangla Unnayan Committee and Research Initiatives Bangladesh.

[2]Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. 2001. Bangladesh Population Census 2001. Dhaka.

[3]National Institute of Population Research and Training (NIPORT) et al. 2008. Bangladesh Urban Health Survey,

2006. Bangladesh.

[4]Department of Environment, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh (2009). National 3R Strategy for Waste Management (Second Draft), Dhaka.


Apr 3, 2014

Em[POWER] Expands Knowledge and Network Through Expansion!

Dear Friends, Donors, Advisors, Members, Interns and Consultants,

On behalf of em[POWER] Energy Group family, I would like to sincerely thank each and every one of you for your continued support. Every donation whether it is through volunteer services or monetary helps ensures that we can continue helping our community locally and internationally.

I know there are a lot of other ways you could have spent this time and money, but you believe in our cause, so you chose to invest it in our project. Because of this investment, I want you to feel like part of our team. We're in this together. I want our success to be your success.

Our projects are across the globe and until one project site is fully operational, we will be sending you regular reports about our work and asking for donations in both voluntary service and monetary form. You'll know what your donation has helped fund, what accomplishments we have achieved and what our current needs are.

I hope you find this partnership valuable and worthwhile. I know the economy is tough, so thank you for investing your time and hard-earned money on our cause. Please consider telling your friends and family about our project - share the link on your blogs or social networks or just bring us up in conversation. You know your friends and family best so use your own words - tell them why you chose our project and what it means to you.

As part of my annual travel to project sites, this year I went to Uganda (em[POWER]’s New Project Site) and Thailand (em[POWER]’s Potential Development Site). Please see the links below for images and more information on our new partner organization!

Facebook for images: http://www.facebook.com/pages/EmPOWER-Energy-Group/263865670305557

Em[POWER]: http://empowerenergygroup.org/

Warm Heart Worldwide: http://warmheartworldwide.org/

Change A Life Uganda: http://www.changealifeuganda.org/

As we expand, we seek and need more help! We need more specialists, advisors, members, organizations, donors to continue to expand and implement in our project sites.

Thank you again for all you have done to help this cause.

With gratitude,

Nasir Uddin


Em[POWER] Energy Group (referred to as em[POWER]) and ChangeALife Uganda  (referred to as CALU) share a single, common goal of creating sustainable communities by giving them the resources they need to be self-sufficient. To achieve this objective, em[POWER] and CALU agree that the two organizations will work together by sharing resources, networks, and educational information, as enumerated below, to further each organization’s goals. With a common mission and passion, em[POWER] has agreed to become their formal partner in the works in Uganda. It is different form of site and relationship than what is traditionally em[POWER] site. However, it is a great way for em[POWER] to expand its portfolio in a country and continent they do not have experience in. As part of all relationship, em[POWER] needed to truly assess the condition of the project in person. For that reason, Nasir Uddin, Co-Founder and VP of em[POWER], visited the site December 2013 for 1-week.

Goal: to assess the variety of projects of CALU as well as see the overall function and structure on-ground.

There are two sites that CALU works in are Nabbingo and Migyera.

On Monday, December 16th, Nasir had a chance to meet some of the Staff of CALU as well as a team that was hired to look at Capacity Building along with Planning and Monitoring. This is as part of the Segal Foundation grant that they received. Em[POWER] intends to look at that report in order to have a better perspective on the challenges of CAL in Uganda.

The staff and leads of the program discussed the variety of programs of CALU: Child Sponsorship Program, Microenterprise Project, and Arts and Crafts program.

-          Some of the challenges mentioned

o   Find a way to drive more patients to the health unit

o   Portable water to community (w/ storage)

o   Hygiene and Sanitation programs

o   Food and Nutrition programs

o   Child Sponsorship Program (needs sustainability)

o   Loan Project Expansion

o   Additional activities that generate revenue

Meeting with Eva’s Family (A Sponsored Child of CALU):

-          Father is not supporting the family of 5

-          Mother has not been active in working until the Child Sponsorship Program

o   Currently:

  • Mother has been doing fair-trade baskets, craft classes
  • Each basket with cover: 1.5 days to make
  • Also maintains a chicken farm that is sold to the market

Meeting with Milay’s Family (A Sponsored Child of CALU):

  • Father passed away at an young age with a family of 2
  • Great idea: drum system in household to store water
    • Benefit: to travel into town to get water every day by the kids rather than studying for school
  • Milay’s mom works on basket making that takes her sometimes 2-3 days
  • Also attends sewing classes and loan program
  • Also attends adult literacy program
  • Milay and her mom runs a pig farm as well

Nabbingo Health Center Facility (a clinic partially supported by CALU):

 Services provided in the clinic:

  1. Curative/Clinic Services
  2. Preventive Services
  3. Surveillance For Special Diseases
  4. Maternal and Child Health
  5. Inpatient Services

Process of patient admission:

Patient comes in --> Waits for Doctors/Nurses --> Doctors/Nurses Utilizes Government Issued Form to Collect Information --> either have the patient do lab tests AND/OR Get prescription for medicine.

Submission of Reports:

Initial Form Data Collection (this form varies based on patient-level)

-          Name, Age, Address, Sex

-          Date, Diagnosis, Weight

Data is transferred from manual forms:

-          Goes from District to the Ministry Level

o   Monthly Summary Form

o   Limited weekly reports for HIV/AIDS related counts

Dedicated Nurses Vaccinating Babies during Weekly Vaccination Day at the Nabbingo Clinic

A briquette (or briquette) is a block of flammable matter used as fuel to start and maintain a fire. Common types of briquettes are charcoal briquettes and biomass briquettes. Charcoal contributes to 6% of total energy consumption in Uganda. Up to 10KG of wood is needed to produce 1 KG of charcoal. CALU is interested in a situation that is not meant to totally wipe out the current use of wood as fuel but creating an environment where government’s policy to protect environment.

Meeting with a Youth Group that Samuel helped train:

-          They started training others as well for free! It is great to see youth working together to do this rather than alternative negative business opportunities that other at their age are doing. It was very inspiring to hear them speak.

Meeting with Our Lady of Charity Women Group (http://olcwomengroup.com/)

“Our Lady of Charity Women group was started in 2008 by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity. The project is located at Mulago-Nsooba slum area, 5 kilometers from Kampala City Centre. The group has another branch in Bukoto Catholic sub-parish with 45 members. The purpose of starting the project was in response to the needs of marginalized girls, women within the surrounding area.”

This is a great group of people! They are doing fantastic work in variety of areas: hand craft, recycling of plastic materials, paper beads, tie-dye tailoring, gardening, mushroom growing, and briquette making, human rights awareness, and counseling. It is great group to support and learn from! They can train others with the amazing products that they make.

Meeting with St Francis Migyera Health Centre

St. Francis Health Clinic, in Migyera is a Level 3 Health Center. It opened July 4, 2012 and provides basic health and maternity services to the community of Migyera and to all St. Lawrence School students. An overall a great infrastructure and set-up done by CALU team! The doctor on staff seems very knowledgeable with 10 other nurses available on staff. The facility followed the same structure as the Nabbingo Health Centre. The prescription looks well stocked. There are no unique codes for patients except Clinic generated numbers (just sequential order). There are very minimal government subsidies: malaria and vaccine. Patient going from one office to another with data being recorded in separate forms can result in missing historical trending as well as typographical errors. When old patient comes in, the patient records are manually dug through the paper to find old records. This can be very difficult and time consuming once there large amounts of patient. Short term: it may be good to establish a patient record system (a manual process) and cards.

John and his brother spend before and after school getting water for the family. They spend hours each week doing this rather than being in school, doing school work or other after school activities. The condition of the water was something unexpected for everyone. The source of this water during rainy season showed the amount of different inputs that came into the water system: animal and people feces, chemicals, and other toxic materials. Throughout the town the only clean system is the rain water capture system that runs out of clean water as the dry season progresses.

CALU Water System:

Creating a commercial water system is the best approach to sustainable clean water system! It allows for community to be involved as well as income generation method for the village. Water is foundation of life and will be direct solution to all the nutrition and health concerns in the community.

Nasir with CALU teams and Engineer in front of the Water Reservoir by the school (left); Full view of the Source of the water along with the transformer 1.5KM away (right)

Unutilized eco-toilet behind the clinic: looks to be in great condition and well designed.



The following blog comes from Nasir Uddin who spent a week at Warm Heart In December. It will be featured in http://warmheartworldwide.tumblr.com/.

I have been involved with Warm Heart since its early days in 2008-9 when I worked to help raise its profile at Rutgers University.  In fact my first collaboration with Michael was as a Rutgers undergrad when I helped to develop training curriculum through Global Pact (http://globalpact.org),an organization he founded to build an international network to take on the world’s problems, no less!  You could certainly say that Michael has personally been responsible for lighting a fire under many of us as we go out into the world and launch our working lives. 

Warm Heart has a vision which is, unfortunately, fairly rare in today’s NGO world.  Most NGOs go into a community with a predefined solution without taking into consideration the true needs of the local residents and how to get them involved.  Warm Heart works hard to really assess how the solutions will impact different areas of the residents’ livelihood, not just on pushing through the project.  For that reason, I have become increasingly interested in understanding the organization and how I can help to support it. 

After meeting Michael several times in the US in the intervening years after he shifted to Phrao and through regular emails, my goal has been to deepen the involvement between Warm Heart and my own NGO, em[POWER] Energy Group (http://empowerenergygroup.org/).  Em[POWER] was founded by students with different specialties from Rutgers and Princeton University five years ago.  It has been my ongoing passion as I continued my graduate schooling and began working full-time for companies who manufacture medical devices. 

Em[POWER]’s mission is to find sustainable solutions through renewable resource-oriented development for waste-picking communities – people who sell waste for their livelihood – in usually remote areas of the developing world.  My particular area of focus has been the telemedicine project.  Telemedicine is defined by the World Health Organization as “the use of information and communications technology to deliver health care particularly in areas where access to medical services is insufficient”.  Over the past year, I have personally funded the software development for a simple and inexpensive solution to carry out preventive health tests to people living in remote areas.

That’s where my connection with Warm Heart comes in.  In each of our project sites – we recently expanded into Uganda, for example – we come across local problems and rely on our network of local and international experts and organizations for support in helping us roll-out, implement and fine-tune our different project solutions.  We also share similar problems so it’s good to brain storm and share stories.

Over the Christmas break this year, I finally had my first opportunity to come to Phrao for a short week-long visit.  There were two primary reasons for my trip: 

1)      To bring a sustainable solution – the telemedicine project – to address health concerns faced by local communities at our project sites and to initiate implementation; 

2)      To obtain deeper and first-hand understanding of Warm Heart and its projects with the end goal of creating a formal partnership between em[Power] and WH.

Warm Heart was facing a serious issue with thousands of residents in the Phrao District who suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes and who aren’t getting the proper care.  Local clinics – Mae Wan clinic where Warm Heart is located alone serves 6000 residents – are sorely understaffed and underfunded.  Nurses are unable to go from village to village and health workers are not trained to collect medical data.  It has been a real struggle for Warm Heart to collect the data so that those who are at high risk can get support.

Em[Power] volunteered to develop a cell phone and web software system integrated with medical devices such as a blood pressure measuring device.  In fact, it took over four years and the involvement of several successive volunteers to finally obtain permissions to pilot the telemedicine project.  Crucial to the viability of the solution was the fact that most of rural Thailand is covered by 3G internet networks. 

The initial pilot project will be at Mae Wan clinic and cover blood pressure monitoring in the villages.  Later we hope to add other preventive tests such as blood glucose and ECG.  Hopefully with the data, we will then get permission for the clinic to send medicine to the patient, or provide transportation to the clinic or closest hospital.  Imagine how just the ability to collect a simple blood pressure reading can lead to someone living in a remote village being able to avoid disablement or death by hypertension. 

Along with Michael and PJ, who served as translator, we were able to demonstrate the device at Mae Wan clinic and obtain permission for the pilot project.  The next step is getting six cell phones loaded with the app and six blood pressure monitoring systems to Phrao.  The first round of cell phones has been funded by donations and Warm Heart will be buying the first round of blood pressure devices.  Warm Heart will also provide the local health workers with the necessary training.

I spent the rest of my week exploring all of Warm Heart’s projects in addition to reviewing the final paperwork and process for the telemedicine program and the formal partnership agreement.  The projects I was most interested in were the biochar renewable energy work that Michael is doing as well as its Fair Trade weaving and sewn products.

From the first morning after waking up in Phrao, I knew WH would be unlike any other place I have ever travelled to.  Michael Shafer has really taken his vision and all his years of experience and created a community which many people consider to be their home.  He and his wife Evelind are really immersed in the local community and practice what they  preach. 

I am looking forward to seeing if the organization can become truly sustainable and if the local community can continue some of these projects without Warm Heart.  Likewise, I’m hoping the telemedicine public health project can expand throughout Phrao valley and even into the rest of Thailand.  The photo below shows me saying goodbye to Michael and Evelind but it’s also the hello to a lasting partnership with Warm Heart Worldwide.


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