One of many amazing children we have met on this journey

One of many amazing children we have met on this journey

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back Home and Busy at work


We finally got settled in back home and have adjusted to the jet lag. Carl and I are busy working on some case modifications that will help us support warmer and dustier environments along with bring the long term cost of the security case down substantially. Next week, look for us to announce our new fund raising drive for Karimba school. We are looking to have 1000 people each give $20USD to allow us to return with another system in December. More details to follow, along with easier online donation options!

I have posted several additional pictures on the right side of the blog. Scroll down the page and enjoy the images that Emily, Carl and I took when we were in Kenya. - John

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Driving to Leparua School

The terrain to Leparua school is very difficult because if its remote location. It was a good test for us to see how well the power system could handle the rough roads and bouncing around. The concept that we can build a power system and get it delivered and installed in a remote location was what we wanted to experience and it worked great. - John


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Friday, June 11, 2010

Carl the Biologist

For the record, there are no Silverback Gorillas in Kenya!!!

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Update from Leparua School



I just received an Email from Faith at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy telling us about their progress at Leparua school. Carl and I will be donating additional rechargeable lanterns for the teachers at the school. They can now charge the lanterns during the day and have a light at home each evening. This is the first time power has been available in the area and it will help the school recruit better teachers along with helping the children have access to library lights and computers. It is good to be home. We just arrived last night and are trying to adjust to the time change!- John

This is the Email message from Faith:

Dear John,

I am not sure if you are home or still at the Mara…..

Please find attached photos of the three lanterns in Leparua. They head teacher received them and distributed to three teachers. Harry is planning to do wiring in the library and I am sure he will update you on that.

Alex, the Canadian volunteer promises to go the school in July after the marathon to teach computers and we will organize that. He will probably go in company of another volunteer.

We will keep you informed on the progress and usage of the solar unit.

With many thanks

Faith

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lion Cubs waiting for Mom

Just one last wonderful photo from the Mara. The photos I have been posting have all been taken from my phone except for the sunrise image. Carl and Emily have shot thousands of photos with their Nikon equipment. They have some amazing images. We are planning to do an event in July or August to show everyone the images and talk about the projects we will be working on in Africa. We will let everyone know that date once we get back. Thanks again for all of the support. -John

Sent from John's Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mara Sunrise

We were out for an early morning game drive in the Mara and I was fortunate enough to take this great photo. You can get a sense of how vast the open plains are and how peaceful it is. I do not think I have experienced a more visually appealing place than this. -John

Sent from John's Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Mara and Vast Open Space

We had a great glimpse of three Cheetahs this morning. They were very animated and we followed them for a long while. The open space down in the Maasia Mara is hard to explain. The view goes on for miles and it is breathtaking. The opens plains go down through Tanzania and the Serengeti. The animals in this huge reserve have very little fear of humans and allow us to get very close. In Lewa, where the animals are encroached by people and face constant poaching issues from the east and north the animals are much more defensive and you need to keep your distance for your safety. It is very sad to see such a difference...
-John

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Our Next School Power Project in Kenya

Carl and I met with the staff at Lewa and we have decided on the next school location for power. Karimba is located southwest of Lewa in a remote area where power is desperately needed. Our goal is to be back at Lewa December of this year for the installation. Of anyone feels excited about what we are doing, please feel free to donate online directly from our blog. Any amount is helpful and what we have learned through this blog and website is that many small donations is as powerful as any large one. Thank you for all the support. The emails to us have been amazing.

The photo above is of Karimba school. On the left is the library and on the right is a row of classrooms. As we have learned In Swahili...Asante Sana. - John

Sent from John's Wireless BlackBerry

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Runway

We made a quick stop on the way to the Mara to pickup a few people near Lake Naivasha. I thought everyone would appreciate the lack of runway. It required a few people to run up and down it to clear the zebra and antelope before we could land. - John

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We are off to the Mara

We said goodbye to Lewa today and all of our goodfriends. We have two flights on small props to get us to the Maasai Mara for a few days of game drives before we head home.
Sent from John's Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, June 4, 2010

Elephants on the Move

Today was an easier day. Carl and I had several meetings to plan for the next school and to review some design changes. We also did an interview with Lewa for their next magazine issue which will have a story about our project. We also found time for a game drive and had a chance to hang with some elephants. They are such an amazing creature in the wild. Tomorrow we fly to the Maasai Mara for a few days to survey a few schools and also relax. - John
Sent from John's Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It was hard work on the roof

Today we had Sean and Alex, two university students from Canada work on the roof wiring and securing the solar panels. It was really difficult because the roof is steep and is very slippery. We used ropes and ladders to make it more safe but it was still dangerous. They both did an amazing job. When everything was done, we were ready to fire up the power unit. We had a video camera and everyone was around for the moment. The camera was on and I turn over a bunch of switches, the unit made some noise, a few lights blinked....and nothing...it was dead!!!! All this was on video while I spent several minutes trying to figure out why we had no AC power. Finally...after we turned off the camera and everyone was depressed I figured it out...I forgot to turn on the main AC power switch! We all had a good laugh and everything worked great.
Sent from John's Wireless BlackBerry

John with the school children

Just another fun photo with the children at Leparua school north of Lewa. -John

Sent from John's Wireless BlackBerry

Children at Leparua School

The children are definitely excited about getting lights and computers and their school but truthfully they were much more interested in our camera and seeing themselves on the LCD screen!

Sent from John's Wireless BlackBerry

We have Power!!!!

Today we finished installing the power system and securing the solar panels. Everything we purchase in town worked perfectly. I will post more pictures and details later. The photo is of the school head master with the power unit. His face lit up when we started running a large drill from the unit. He did not believe it was going to actually happen until he saw it with his eyes. The actual install of everything took about 8 hours. Not including all the drive time. The system can easily be installed in one day which was our goal! The problems we had with bolts will be easily fixed with the next system now that we can better explain what we need built to local metal workers. Today was a great day for Carl and myself. Thank you for all the support. I will post more photos later of all the children. Right now I need a few beers!!!!!
Sent from John's Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Inside my Malaria Bed Net

Just being my creative self. I thought this was a cool photo. I tried to upload videos today but was not able to get a good connection for my computer. When we get home, Carl and I will upload a bunch of clips.
-John

Sent from John's Wireless BlackBerry

An African Day

Today was not as productive as we had hoped. Carl and I still need to adjust to the realities of getting things done in Kenya. We had hoped to pick up need supplies in a nearby town this morning and be working on installation at Laparua school in the afternoon but it did not happen. We ended up taking a large group of people to town that needed items and between traffic and locating things it took until 1:00pm before we were ready to head out to the school. We then need to pick up several tools from the logistics depot on the way out but everyone takes lunch between 1-2pm so we could not get what we needed until 2pm. Once we found someone to help us, we spent the next 1 1/2 hours trying to locate the following.

Drill
Bit
Extension cord
Hammer

So we are now planning a full day tomorrow at the school and hopefully we will have everything we need. We went to the town of Meru this morning to locate 25 - 1" long bolts and washers to fix a problem with the way the local welder had built the solar panel frame. It turns out that bolts are not readily available even at hardware stores. After several stores and many people pointing me to other places, I finally found a metal shop "Shanir Hyads Masterwork Foundry" on a side street off of an alley that I could barely fit through that had most of what I needed. I will now need to do a MacGyver style fix to bypass what we do not have.

While I was out running through town, it appears that Emily, Carl's daughter was very popular while waiting in the car. I think that she had several marriage proposals and it seems she is worth a lot of cows! - John

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Waterfall surprise

After our work day, our friend Harry who heads up logistics at LEWA took us, his family, and two Canadian interns up to a beautiful hidden waterfall to relax and swim. The area around LEWA is diverse. We spent all day working in desert like conditions and an hour later we are in the forest swimming.
John

Sent from John's Wireless BlackBerry

Transporting to Laparua

Today was a long and difficult day. We took three trucks with equipment across some of the most difficult terain to Laparua school. The equipment made it safely which proves we can get the system to just about anywhere safely. Once there, we had some real challenges with mounting the roof panels. The mount kit we had paid to be built locally was not 100% correct so we are going to have to buy parts tomorrow to correct the issues. The tin roof is so slippery and weak that I had to use ropes to make sure I did not fall off or through. We laid down ladders on the roof to help strengthen our footing and we use ropes to tie everything together. It slowed down the pace and with the mounting problems set us back till tomorrow.

We did get a lot done today and we learned a lot about a better design panel design for the next school. I have not been so physical since before my knee surgery. Tomorrow morning will be interesting. Hopefully I will not need to wear a knee brace.
Thanks for all the great emails and support.
John

Sent from John's Wireless BlackBerry