This summer's 11 Whitman High School (Bethesda, MD) student interns came to Buyobo in late June to continue work on the new school classrooms and to oversee the installation of solar power in the building. The power was supplied by Barefoot Power, a social enterprise that focuses on providing affordable lighting to populations without access to electricity. Barefoot Power came to the village and made a presentation on their solar lighting product and installation plan. The village was excited to watch the installation, which was funded by generous donations though Global Giving and by the Women's Microfinance Initiative. Solar lighting allows the building to be lit at night enabling teachers and parents to tutor their children after dinner. While they were in the village, the student summer interns prepped their new friends for the national examinations. The system is working perfectly and students, parents and teachers are all inspired by the new lighting system.
In addition to the tutoring, the interns renovated other school buildings, helped the WMI borrowers learn to use computers, led a Grassroots Soccer program and learned about village life. Noah Martin, one of the interns, summed up the trip as follows: The whole trip has been an amazing experience. The most important experience to me was the fact that no matter what we do we are creating jobs. Its amazing that the simple task of painting a wall or building a gate gives so many people the ability to work and it brings in so many people to help to get it done. This trip was largely seen as a life experience for me. While we are only here for a couple of weeks we are truly able to see a completely different lifestyle and that is a completely priceless experience.
Tali Stopak-Mathis, one of the trip chaperones, added: "The Whitman students have been awesome- integrating themselves into the life of the community and school, embracing the life here and bringing lots of fun in everything they do!"
Thanks to everyone who supported the solar lighting project!
The Journey Begins
June 3, 2012 by WMI college intern team
Malembe! After a long, tumultuous, sweaty journey, we have arrived in Buyobo. Considering weare going to be here for a couple of months we thought we should start this blog by introducing ourselves.
We are WMI's summer collgege interns. From Toronto,Canada we have 21 year old Danielle DaCosta, a recent Anthropology graduate from McGill University. From Stockholm Sweden we have Xaviera Alvarez-Nordstrom, a 22 year-old Classics student at Glasgow University. And finally, Dan Higgins, a 25 year-old International Development student from Essex, England.
Since arriving on Friday afternoon we have been overwhelmed by the friendly welcome we have received and the beauty of Buyobo. Our highlight so far being the WMI meeting we attended today which began with a note-perfect welcome song from the BWA women and some of the borrowers.
We are super excited about our time here and are eager to get involved in helping the WMI in any way we can. As we all know nothing really goes to plan in Africa, however, we have a few activities that we hope to accomplish, or at least make some progress with, over the next two months. These include, helping some of the WMIworkers with their computer skills, carrying out some surveys of the borrowers, help out at Buyobo Primary School however we can and raise awareness about the importance of water filters by way of organizing a raffle with filters as the prize.
But our main job is to ensure the Walt Whitman High School interns that are coming in a couple of weeks have an enjoyable and productive time and make some great new friends here in the village. Six of the high school students are returning interns – this will be their second visit to Buyobo, so they already know more about village life and WMI’s work here than we do!
The initial solar panel system project sponsored by the high school students has already been installed in the 3 new classrooms in Buyobo (which were built and funded by the high school interns over the two previous years). We will work with the high school students to double check the installation and hopefully add some capacity to it while they are here. The teacher’s tea and bun program is also being renewed by the high school students. We are meeting with the assistant head teacher, Ambrose Masolo, to find out how the program has helped Buyobo PrimarySchool teachers be more effective.
Follow our blog of the summer intern events in Buyobo at: http://wmionline.wordpress.com
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