Trash burning is a serious problem in the recently opened up country of Myanmar. Reese's trip in February 2013 to the town of Kyuakme inspired her to found and co-lead the project, Linking Infrastructure and Community (LINC Myanmar), with co-leader Dou Dou. In both spring and summer of 2014, we plan to travel to Kyuakme, Myanmar to set up recycling in the local community by linking the nearby existing waste infrastructure to the community, and provide education on sustainable waste management.
Currently we are actively looking for support to make this project happen. For more about our project, please see our website: lincmyanmar.webs.com
Hope in Flight is an organic waste management project based in northern Ghana. We use the Black Soldier Fly, a species of fly indigenous to Ghana and many parts of the world, to tackle sanitation and waste accumulation issues, while providing local entrepreneurs with a new source of income. In our target community, Taha, 40% of organic waste is left out to rot, and there are currently no systems capable of processing all this waste. Our solution is to partner with local entrepreneurs, who will use our innovative bioconversion system to farm Black Soldier Fly larvae, which can convert organic waste into protein body mass with an approximately 40% efficiency. The self-harvesting pre-pupae can be processed and sold as high protein animal feed to poultry and fish farmers. This generates income for our partners while replacing a need for expensive imported feed. In this way, we hope to empower local entrepreneurs to address the poverty and massive sanitation issues in their communities. This project is currently funded by the MIT IDEAS/Global Challenge Competition, the Tau Beta Pi Service and Engineering Fellowships, and the MIT UROP office.
There are currently no educational resources to teach middle and high school students about efficient biomass stoves…our project is changing that! The Global Cookstove Education Project (GCEP) uses project-based learning to connect students from around the world through the issues of personal energy use, biomass resources, and efficient cookstoves. Pioneered in 2012 by a group of educators from 4 countries, the GCEP allows students to participate in a global educational collaboration as they investigate biomass use, build small cookstoves, test stove efficiency, and search for solutions to the health and environmental problems that arise from the fact that half the earth’s population burns wood or charcoal to meet their daily energy needs. Although still in its infancy, the GCEP has recently begun to gain traction in terms of not only educating students about biomass use issues and efficient cookstoves, but also by serving as model for the use of STEM design projects to encourage collaborations between students around the world. Visit: the website
In the spring of 2013, our team developed entrepreneurship workshops for a group of mostly illiterate wastepickers as a part of the new D-Lab: Education course. We will be introducing basic skills in math, personal finance, communication, and developing a business.
For my project I went back home to Kenya during IAP 2013, to implement an agricultural charcoal project in the Rumuruti area of rural Kenya. I went there to introduce both a new kiln design which reduces smoke emissions during agricultural charcoal production and a charcoal press that produces more charcoal briquettes for commercial purposes.
I worked in association with the Rumuruti Forest Association (RFA) which was established to oversee minimizing deforestation in the Rumuruti forest. We visited several locations in the area and conducted demonstrations for the locals to see. They were completely satisfied with the new kiln design and seemed eager to adopt it for household charcoal production. The press that we assembled is currently being used by the RFA as they gather more funds to make additional similar presses.
My friends and I raised thousands of dollars to buy rice, pharmaceuticals and other essentials for orphanages in Burma. Most of the funds came through private donations from family and friends. Most of the funds went towards providing for hundreds of Burmese orphans living in monasteries across Burma. The funds would feed the orphans for an entire year, leaving them free to attend school without the need to work or serve as child soldiers in the Burmese military. My team also visited villages where we helped coordinate and rebuild water and sanitation systems which were destroyed by Cyclone Nargis in 2008. The water and sanitation systems help to provide potable drinking water for the entire village, especially the young who were most prone to cholera and other waterborne diseases.
Team members made contact with the Burmese political opposition and members from Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy to understand the political situation on the ground. The team conducted interviews and visited political prisoners in Burma's notorious Insein Prison. The team documented human rights abuses by the Burmese military against the Rohingyas, Burma's minority Muslims. The NLD directed the team to provide assistance to the poorest areas of Burma where the team provided relief and medical supplies.
In Jan 2011, I volunteered through MIT's Public Service Center with a high school teacher who wanted to do data analysis. Knowing Excel, I remade his gradebook template to make it much more powerful. With time and many iterations, the gradebook is now online for free for teachers to use. I performed first-person teacher testing in summer 2013. It is downloaded over 1000/yr across the globe. See the website
In summer 2011, I worked with MIT RELATE (a physics education research group) to make/code physics questions. These questions were used in their free online mechanics course and are now available for use in EdX.
Children and young adults are some of the world's most powerful resources. Our project worked to invest in the youth by informing and inspiring local schoolchildren aged 5-15 about science and engineering through after-school hands-on activities and lessons, as well as empowering them by partnering with the local school teachers in the teaching of English. The long-term goal of the project was to promote the psychological development of the young people of La Vaquita by boosting their confidence and communication skills in hopes of encouraging them to pursue higher education. This project was funded by the Legatum Center IAP 2011 Seed Grant.
This project focused on community relations and working with the community to develop a distribution model for rainwater harvesting tanks. The community was surveyed on tank preferences in terms of material, size, durability, and maintenance. The community ultimately decided on a shared tank system with partially underground ferrocement tanks Prototype rainwater harvesting system components were constructed in country including gutters, pumps, first flush systems, and tanks. The team and community determined which prototype would work best for the community and finalized the design of the system. Tank locations and community contributions were finalized. .
We taught local communities about a variety of technologies in partnership with the student group we worked with, Rwanda Village Concept Project. One project we worked on demonstrating charcoal and cornsheller making to agricultural cooperatives. We also worked on water treatment and demonstrated to people that their water was dirty with presence/absence tests. The people were quite convinced by Pathoscreen tests and responded well to the methods we taught them, including chlorine and solar disinfection, SODIS.Rwanda emphasizes doing experiments in its science education curriculum, however few rural schools have the supplies they need to carry out experiments. To address this, We created a manual of science experiments that can be done with materials available in rural areas and demonstrated these experiments to teachers.
I worked at the Development Economics Research Group in the Office of the Chief Economist at the World Bank. The summer internship was unique because of the numerous intersections between economics and public policy. I conducted research on the immigration and labor policies of the ten countries in Southeast Asia as well as the policies adopted by other industrialized democracies such as Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia, Taiwan and the United States. I prepared a few research papers using the data provided to us by the different governments. The research proved to be useful in helping my team better understand the realities on the ground in Southeast Asia so that they can provide better policy recommendations to the different governments in the region. In the end, my work contributed towards a report which was presented to the Malaysian Interior Minister.
The goal of the trip was to test the feasible of making and selling hand-sanitizer locally in the community as a solution to poor hand hygiene. We found that soap was both cheaper and more effective. We fixed the computers at the local school and provided English-language learning software. Mary taught English classes. We also helped the locals organize the purchasing of garbage bins and petition the government for services.
The initial aim of this summer project was just conducting needs accessment for the migrant worker community in Shenzhen, China. After spending time there with the community for 2 weeks, we realized that the community was faced with a myriad of problems, the most prominent of which is the threat posed by occupational hazards that they are exposed to on a daily basis. The high prevalent of severe occupational disease, especially organic solvent poisoning, is caused mainly by inscrupulous factory owners who do not follow safety giudelines and also by the fact that many of these workers are unaware of the dangers posed by their working environment. After talking to different migrant workers and NGO organizers, we decided to create a self-diagnostic card and a series of play cards with information on occupational hazards on them to be desseminated amongst the workers and a short documentary documenting the plight of the workers for the purpose of securing potential funding from fundations outside of China and to increase publicity for the Little Bird. We left after the productions of these items.
This project was planned throughout the school year by EWB MIT. This was the third time EWB MIT has been to Ddegeya and the first time we did a large scale implementation. One project was to install solar panels at the Engeye health clinic to provide them with enough power to maintain a vaccine fridge, additional lighting and a microscope. One of the main issues in the village is the supply of water. The team built a rainwater harvesting tank in partnership with the villagers. To address purifying the water the team built a sand filter for the clinic and taught the village about solar disinfection, SODIS, at community meetings. The team also established a firmer relationship with the community by creating a community water board to manage water projects when we are not present.
This summer I did research at Aachen University in Germany in the department of psychiatry and psychotherapy in the faculty of medicine. I investigated how aggression and impulsivity are related to the level of sex hormones in healthy female subjects. After this experience I would like to join the Fear Extinction Mechanism lab at MIT in the Brain and Cognitive Science Department. My plan is to focus on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and later on combine it with the topic of child soldiers and their reintegration into a society.
I had a semester-long internship in rural India working on issues of public and preventive health. My primary focus was on developing scalable awareness strategies for prevention of diarrhea, jaundice, dental cavities, leucorrhea, and anemia. To do this, I surveyed households and self-help groups to assess current knowledge gaps in preventive health and used this information to design a poster on Hepatitis A prevention tailored to local customs. Additionally, I collaborated with Chirag staff in working with village health committees to improve ground-level implementation of the National Rural Health Mission. While I was there, I noticed that the communities I was working in spent a few hours each day on household laundry, so I designed and built a pedal-powered washing machine with local artisans to introduce an affordable, time-saving, productivity boosting technology for rural families, especially women.
The goal of the project was to transfer an appropriate technology design from the Fully Belly project to the communities the NGO (Village Hope) had partnered with in Sierra Leone. The plan was to take the molds for casting the sheller with us and donate them to the NGO and then acquire all other materials needed locally and teach NGO workers the process of making them. The NGO would then be responsible for working with the villages. This is what was implemented.