Saturday, December 12, 2009

Graduation!

As you may know, the founding members of Running Water International are all students in the Global Social Sustainable Enterprise program at Colorado State University, and we are graduating!
Becky and Tanisha are planning a trip back to Kenya January 2010. Please contact us if you would like to make a financial contribution.

Becky- bfedak13@gmail.com
Tanisha- tanishaqui@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Meet Running Water International

video

The team at Colorado State University had our first presentation of the school year to recap and report to faculty and classmates about our progress on our project during the summer trip in Kenya. So if you're catching up, enjoy the slideshow! Cheers!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Leaving Something Behind…

We spent the past week in Nairobi and Mombassa. In Nairobi we were able to practice our pitch to some contacts from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Acumen Fund. Our project and all its start up costs are a fraction to what the aforementioned organizations deal with when deciding to fund projects- a minimum of $500,000 in capital. We simply have appreciated the opportunity to meet these people as well as practice our pitch especially after our summer work!

The entire team except me- Tanisha- has left Kenya and I am left here to finish some remaining business and will be off on a jet plane this evening. I was able to visit our site for the first time since Becky and I left Nakuru for Nairobi and our mini-vacay in Mombassa. I was pleased to see a huge dump truck at the Polytechnic delivering gravel and sand! I spent the day meeting with Isaac and discussing the way forward and managing the project in our absence. The main bottleneck still remains to be the mysterious KRA pin which is basically our registration with the Kenyan IRS. We are learning to maneuver around this irritating constraint and hope and pray it will be processed by Aug 15th.

This summer has definitely been eventful! Establishing an enterprise has proved to be quite exciting! We weren’t quite sure what the outcome would be when we embarked on this journey-- now we are leaving and fully intend to return with lifelong relationships and a manufacturing facility here in Kenya. For some of those inquiring minds out there, Becky and I (Tanisha) fully intend to come back in January to see how this real pilot project is going.

Thanks for reading this blog, we hope to keep it updated as we pursue this project and try to get something moving while in the US.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Final Stretch- Finishing Well

We are preparing to leave Njoro tomorrow! We will be spending the next week or so on the road meeting people in Nairobi as well as trying to take a few days out for some much needed R & R in Mombassa. The past few weeks have been power packed with a lot a great things and events. We leave Njoro feeling like we have accomplished a lot and yet, feel like there is still so much to do.


RWI-Maji Salama Official Registration.


The RWI-Maji Salama Office on the Nakuru Youth Polytechnic campus.


The students at the Nakuru Youth Polytechnic.


Becky and Tanisha taking care of business on a "boda-boda"-- motorbike taxi.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The check is in the mail...


After two weeks of waiting, and waiting... we have received our first check! This is our first down payment for our order for 200 filters. We’re hoping to use this down payment to buy raw materials and start production prior to our departure. We are experiencing some snags with bureaucracy and all that it takes to start a business. In order to open a business bank account we need a mysterious PIN number from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). Nevertheless, since we registered a mere 11 days ago our business is not in the KRA database which takes 2 weeks to populate newly registered businesses. We’re trying to contact some people in Nairobi to see if we can get our business populated in the KRA database earlier. We’ll see. Ahhh, the beauty of working in a foreign system. As Becky so eloquently stated today, “Toto, We’re not in Kansas anymore."

Photo taken June 19, 2009 at Yasha Mission School, Njoro, Kenya (May seem like a random post with the above blog entry, but these kids are so cute. I thought we would show some of the local kids.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Moving Forward and Introducing RWI-Maji Salama- Its Official!

Our team has hit a fork in the road on this journey. Aseel and Sanghamitra will be leaving Kenya on Monday to head back to their home countries (Iraq and India respectively) for a bit before starting the fall semester this August. Meanwhile Becky and Tanisha will remain in-country for about two more weeks. As we prepare to bid our teammates goodbye we are also reflecting on how fruitful this trip has been. We started this journey and calling this a “Feasibility Study” and quickly came to the conclusion on week two that this was “very possible.” Since then we have been trying figure out what is the most appropriate strategy for our team.

Isaac our local Kenyan representative has helped us in registering the entity RWI-Maji Salama. “Maji Salama” means, “Safe Water” in Swahili. We are official, and are awaiting our first down payment for a big order of 200 BSFs. Once we receive the down payment we are hoping to start production!


"Give me a R- Give me a W- Give me an I... what's that spell??? RWI!!!"

The highlights of our time in Kenya:
 Going on Safari in Masai Mara and seeing tons of wildlife!
 Visiting urban slums in Nairobi, and understanding the sanitation and water situation there.
 Visiting communities in the Njoro Watershed and understanding how the BSF has impacted households already.
 Installing three BSFs in a local secondary school and going back to see the progress and implementation of the BSFs.
 Visiting local microfinance institutions and even having the possibility to partner with one!
 Establishing a partnership with the Nakuru Youth Polytechnic Institute for production and manufacturing.
 Experiencing frustration and trying to understand how things get done in Kenya especially registering a business entity.

These are just a few of our highlights… and there has been much more!
We wish our dear teammates a safe journey and a restful time with their families.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Partnership Established with Nakuru Youth Polytechnic Institute


Well, we all managed to survive past June 30th, and are proud to announce that we have established a partnership with the Nakuru Youth Polytechnic Institute. The institute trains local teens in various vocations such as carpentry, masonry, welding, hairdressing, automotive mechanics, dressmaking etc. We will be able to manufacture the Biosand filters (BSF) in their facility while using the student man-power to manufacture the BSFs. An equitable agreement has been struck for both parties and we are excited to see the possibilities for our partnership. June 30th was a big day for us we feel like we have accomplished something big. Now we have to implement and make sure everything is in line prior to our departure in late July.

In addition we are also happy to introduce you all to Isaac the local Kenyan Representative for Running Water International. Isaac has been a part of our team since we interviewed him during our trip over spring break in March, and he will be working with our local Kenyan partners and making sure the project runs smoothly on the ground for the next 7 months here in Nakuru. The RWI team has identified the next 7 months as a trial period as we prepare to manufacture the BSFs with the Nakuru Polytechnic to fulfill an order of 200 BSFs. Also we would like to mention that we are in the process of registering our business in Kenya and should be official soon.




*The pictures featured were taken June 30th, the day the MOU was signed and an agreement was made with Nakuru Youth Polytechnic. The picture of Isaac is from the same day when we were invited to a "baraza" (village meeting) in a community called Lare.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A New Method for Promotion. (Hire these guys!)

So we were out and about in Nakuru town running errands. We ran into these guys promoting a new restaurant opening in town. We were impressed with this method of guerrilla marketing!









We have been busy and will update more after tomorrow which is our big deadline. We're hoping all things go as planned... and will let you know how things turn out. In short we have an interested partner and may have a solid partnership by the end of this week. Details to come.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pushing the Possibilities


We have been visited by our project partner from the US who has been our main contact for SUMAWA. She has come to make sure that the transition from the research project into an enterprise goes smoothly. We have been learning in real life how development funding must be spent and how to allocate funds and assets when a USAID funded project is ending. We are nearing June 30th the date in which the SUMAWA project’s funding will end as well as the work established from many years of research in the region will be handed over. Handed over to whom you may ask? Well these are the same questions we are asking ourselves. We are working on acquiring some of the assets.

Another project in Eldoret (in western Kenya) conducting research on nutrition and its impact on the health of individuals infected with HIV has put in an order for 200 filters, and will need an invoice from RWI or the entity that we establish by June 30th. They need to have evidence that they have allocated and “used” the funds by June 30th -- because they are funded by the same source as the SUMAWA project (which is ending). This is part of the learnings mentioned above, and has put a fire under our butts!

This situation has pushed our team to evaluate the viability of this enterprise and measure our commitment to this project. This has also pushed us to look into the registration process in order to establish legal entity. Additionally we are working hard to identify local private partners who can help us build manufacturing capacity for such a big order. We have visited two potential partners today and will continue to look for more as we progress.

The picture posted is from the day we visited the Teret Secondary School to install 3 filters. The students treated us like celebrities and we now know what it feels like to be chased by a mob of excited teenagers. Its hard to believe that was just last week so much has happened!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

2 Schools x 2 Households x 3 BSFs


Today has been busy! We visited two schools, two households, and were part of the installation of two biosand filters (BSF) at one of the schools. Actually we were planning to install all three, but were able to install two and will come back to see the progress on the installation of the third filter.

Here is a picture of Simon (the main BSF technician) installing the first BSF, and instructing the school staff on the ways it is used.

Becky and Tanisha are "put on the spot" to sing in front of the class. We are singing "Lean on Me," complete with hand motions and everything.

The team in breath-taking Teret in what use to be the Mau forest walking from household to household, up and down hills, and through different farm plots of land.
Needless to say we are exhausted.





Sunday, June 14, 2009

All the Possibilities



We have been in Kenya for over 3 weeks now. We have been keeping busy, and this past weekend we were able to visit Masai Mara. We were joined by our professor in the GSSE program—Dr. Rick Turley and it has been so much fun to have someone new to talk to and share our experiences with.
Last week we finished visiting households who have been using BSFs as a part of the part of the SUMAWA study. From these experiences we have been able to understand what the current users of the BSF in the Njoro region think of their BSF and how they use it. We are grappling with the idea that we are taking this project from the research phase into enterprise implementation. It’s quite exciting, but it is a little frustrating as we try to learn what has been done and how to move forward.
Tomorrow we have a meeting with the men and women who have been primarily trained as technicians and sale associates. We are hoping to present with them our ideas on moving this enterprise forward, and we are hoping to get important feedback from the constituents in regards to their experiences and expectations. We are also hoping to install three BSFs at a secondary school in Teret.
We have been entertaining the staff at the Egerton University hotel with our odd eating habits and our strange requests. One waiter in particular always replies to our requests—“It is very possible, for you very possible.” This has become a mantra on our team and we are also able to see that our project’s viability as an income generator and possible enterprise here in Njoro is—very possible indeed.
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny
matters compared to what lies within us."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Running for Clean Water...

Well, well, well… We are here at Egerton University the location of our project partner SUMAWA as well at the location for our project for the Biosand Filter (BSF). Today is Sunday and we arrived here on Friday afternoon. We were able to see some wildlife along the road from Nairobi such as impalas, baboons, and zebras. We hope to book a safari in the near future where we may get the chance to see a lot more wild life at Masai Mara the most popular wildlife preserve in Kenya.
When we arrived on Friday we had a meeting with Simon the main BSF technician and three other men who have been trained to be BSF technicians but have yet to practice their skills due to lack of capacity. We have been encouraged that there is a true need here; the challenge for our team is to consider which places are the best leverage points for our intervention to a system that has already partially formed and yet needs funds, capacity, direction, and a legal entity to take it to the next level.
Saturday we travelled with our driver Inondo and Simon to a household in Teret (town next to Njoro) with 8 children to replace a leaky BSF. The man of the house, Moses Kombo is a deputy principle of a secondary school in the community and wanted us to supply the school that he works at with 3 BSFs. Once the BSF was replaced in the Kombo home we travelled to the school where we met with the Principal and discussed the BSF, and its qualities. The principal was convinced, and purchased 3 BSFs to be delivered in two weeks. Our main concern with all this is building capacity in order to build credibility and provide Simon with a more stable livelihood. We need to learn how to work with the existing system established with Egerton University and how to move this enterprise forward. We were even invited to attend a community day at the school in Teret where we could promote the BSF and our business. This would have been a great opportunity and yet we decided to pass on this opportunity because Simon does not even have all the raw materials to fill any potential orders. We are learning there is curiosity and a demand for the BSF and yet are not prepared to start operations yet. The team is optimistic as well as eager to see what kind of impact we can make in this region.
With Sanghamitra- our representative from India we have been able to eat Indian fare on multiple occasions. In case you didn’t know there is quite a sizeable population of Indian immigrants here in Kenya. Most of them are involved in the business and commerce sector.
Today we have been able to take a much needed rest, and do our laundry (by hand). The entire team went out for run around the campus as well. It was a leisurely jog, and we hope to create a Running Water International racing team soon!
We have settled into our living quarters here on the campus. We are staying in the dorms here and are reminded of our own days during our undergraduate studies where we had to stay in dorms. We have bought an electric tea kettle and have already found multiple uses for it!
We have learned that Monday is the Kenyan Independence Day, no one will be working. So apparently we will have another day to strategize for the week. Stay tuned a lot more to come!
-Tanisha
Running Water International

Friday, May 29, 2009

RWI team arrived to Kenya

This is Aseel reporting from Nairobi-Kenya and it is May 28, 2009. On May 23rd the four of us arrived to Nairobi safely after about 20 hours in air, US is really far and it feel so good to be closer to home (Iraq). We arrived exhausted, had a drink of Fanta and tea then went to bed. I suggested not to wake up early next day but surprisingly I was the first to wake up at 5:50 am (not very much like me, but I think I was still jet lagged). We spent the last four days meeting with different NGOs and individuals who we contacted before and learned more about Kenya people and the water sector. Yesterday was an exciting day; we visited two schools in the slums of Nairobi which was very touching and sad. The kids were so excited to see (Wazungu) which means white people in Swahili. They ran to us trying to shake hands which makes them very happy and telling friends that they greeted a white person, I don’t know what is special about us, is it just that they are not used to seeing white skin or white skin means that they will have a better meal or new clothes. Whichever it is what matters to us is to see them excited and happy.
We met Mama Lucy, the volunteer school manager who takes care of 220 kids and she asked us to pray for her to live 100 years so she can be around for these kids. Whenever we entered a class the kids in a chorus started singing “Good morning our visitor, how are you our visitor”, and whenever asked to sing they praise the Lord.
Nairobi is a poor city but I believe every city is poor in a different way, may be Kenya is poor in terms of food and clean water but as a first time visitor I see the richness it has more than the poverty. It is rich in green areas; I am amazed by the gigantic green plants everywhere. On Sunday, in each street you walk you will hear songs praising God and thanking Him for their life. People are nice, always smiling and very helpful.
A miracle has happened in regards to my visa back to the US… I was able to obtain a multi-entry visa within 48 hours of my first interview that took place this past Tuesday. I am able to come back to Ft. Collins to finish my degree, as well as see my family in Iraq!!!!
With US visa in hand the team and I will head to Njoro (the region of our pilot market) where we will spend 6 weeks working on our feasibility analysis. We have a lot of work to do, and will keep you updated on any exciting news. Our pictures will be uploaded as soon as we arrive at Egerton University in Njoro.
Kwa herini (Good bye)!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Going Back to Kenya

The count-down to departure for Africa is upon us again! We have one more week to complete our class work and projects and then we will be leaving again on May 22nd. At this time we have been able to continue to grow our professional network in Kenya and here in the States in regards to other key player who are working in this area. We are continually learning- although it is stressful this is fun. Next week we will be "pitching" our enterprise idea and turning in our business plan for the GSSE program. We will keep you updated as we travel- in the mean time we have a lot of little things to do to get ready... and we hope to report soon that every teammate will be traveling.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Jet Lagged...

Tanisha and I, after over 30 hours of travel (including a long layover in Amsterdam where we actually got to get out of the aiport, explore the city, and even enjoy some real Danish pastry), made it back to Fort Collins safe and sound late Monday night. We are currently recovering from the travel and craziness of our travels, starting to sort through all of the information we gathered, while also jumping back into classes for the home stretch of spring semester. We are very excited to compile everything we learned, start planning for a successful summer field study, and return to Kenya in May. We think there is so much potential to make a positive and lasting impact with the work we are doing...we can't wait to get on the ground and hopefully make a true contribution!!

Check out this link to see pictures from our trip...
http://travel.webshots.com/album/570664387vRMmwD?vhost=travel

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Heading Back...

Karibou!

We are in Nairobi after a long week in Njoro and Eldoret. We are boarding a flight tonight at 10pm tonight and will arrive in Denver Monday night.
This trip has proved to be very fruitful and we are very grateful to all the people we have met and their openness to collaboration with us. Kenyan people are so kind, we are looking forward to our return at the end of May.

We have much more to report and pictures to share when we are back in the States, but due to lack of time here are at the internet cafe I must keep it short.
Until then...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Jambo (Hello) from Egerton University

What an experience the last couple of days have been. I think both Tanisha and I are still in awe that we are finally here and really getting the opportunity to see the region and meet the people we have been reading about so intently for the last 4 months!
After we wrote last, we went exploring around Nairobi and did some shopping at the Village Market. Tanisha worked her bargaining skills for some Kangas (a wrap worn by women in Kenya) and a few other gifts and she did a great job but was later disappointed by the lower prices being offered by other stalls within the market. And it was hilarious, with her competitive spirit she was so angry with herself the rest of the day!!
Yesterday, after attending church we made our way here to Egerton University in the Rift Valley...what a drive! There were baboons and warthogs and zebra right on the side of the road, grazing right along side goats, sheep, and cows...you definitely can't see that back home. And then Dr. Semenye took us on our own little safari (which means journey in Swahilli) down to Lake Elementaita to see the flamingos...what a site. And there were these two boys who were running after the car the entire time wanting to sell us the beautiful flowers they had made from the flamingo plumes they had collected. With their determination, running after us for such a long distance, we could not resist!! It really puts into perspective the situation here...
Today we had our first opportunity to see the River Njoro region. Getting a real lay of the land was really exciting and fulfilling after reading about it for so long. We were also able to visit some of the household that have been using the filter. I really can't find the words to explain the experience. Reflecting on the day I think we are both extremely overwhelmed by the extent of the need but also encouraged by the opportunity and potential to really make a difference!!
Until next time...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Nairobi for the First Time...

This is Tanisha reporting from Nairobi, Kenya. After 24 hours, a small debate about Amsterdam being Dutch or Danish while on our layover in Amsterdam, 4 movies (including Australia- which I highly recommend) , and multiple airline meals including those tiny sealed cups of water, Becky and I arrived in Nairobi at about 8:30 pm last night and were able to get settled into our hotel last night and get to bed by 11pm.
I have forgotten that I have a love-hate relationship with mosquitoes. They love me, and I hate them. But by 1am I had already been bitten by a couple of mosquitoes and freaked Becky out by waking up abruptly and hurrying to spray the mosquito repellant on me and her. I also freaked her put later at 4am when I laughed out loud and lamented over the mosquitoes. Anyhow, we are taking the malaria pills-- and trying to repell the mosquitoes as best as possible. Not a big deal yet.

We already met with a contact who has been doing extensive work with Biosand Filtration and other development work in rural parts of Kenya. The meeting proved to be encouraging to both of us, and hopefully has set the pace for the rest of the trip. Tomorrow we are off to Njoro to meet Dr. Semenye and other project partners at Egerton University.

Until next time....

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The beginning of something beautiful...


Greetings!
Well this is the first official blog for the Running Water International blog. This is Tanisha now 1/5th of the team based out of the GSSE (Global Social Sustainable Enterprise) at Colorado State University. Becky and I will be heading to Nairobi, Kenya tomorrow for our Spring Break. We will be in-country, making contact with our project partner (SUMAWA) a research group comprised of UC Davis, University of Wyoming, and Egerton University (in Kenya). We will also get a chance to see some communities that are already using the Biosand Filter and how it has impacted the communities.
If we get a chance, we will send reports from the field this spring break. Above is a picture of our team (Becky Fedak, Dr. Rick Turley, Tanisha White, Aseel Anton, Sanghamitra Chatterjee, not pictured- Muna Luftallah).