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MIT student blogger Mitra L. '07

Off to Zambia by Mitra L. '07

Through my awesome D-Lab class, I am going to Zambia today until Jan 31st. Zambia is a land-locked country in southern Africa (see above)

We will spend the majority of our trip in the community of Mwape, which is in the northeast corner of the nation.

Last January’s D-Lab Zambia group installed solar panels on the roof of Mwape’s primary school, so we will spend some time checking on the panels and assessing whether the school is able to hold adult classes in the evening.

Another one of our main projects is water testing and education. The community has a water safety committee with whom we will host chlorine and Sodis demonstrations. Sodis uses a method of water disinfection intended for the household level that takes advantage of solar properties to treat water. We are bringing different prototypes of their bags with us to see which features the community members like or don’t like. In addition, we will be running coliform and presence/absence tests on Mwape’s ~10 boreholes.

One of my groupmates is also conducting a survey on latrine usage. There are few latrines in the village, but before more can be built, all the stakeholders need to understand the reasons why the current ones aren’t being used (location? design? stigma?). In a community in India (I think?), well-intentioned development workers saw a need for water in an area with few wells/pumps, and subsequently built each woman her own water pump. These workers failed to realize that the women were able to use their walk to the communal pump to meet up with other women, share stories, and get a break from their own household. A good reminder that not everything that seems “wrong” or “missing” really is.

See you in February!

21 responses to “Off to Zambia”

  1. reddy says:

    hey mit does such COOL work. Have a great time helping people! i almost thought that you had given up writing posts. You are great at writing them!

  2. Hey

    are you gonna come to Botswana also??

    Ankit Chandra
    Gaborone, Botswana

  3. Hey have fun in Zambia. I hope you get to wear wellings to deal with the rainy season – they are so hot!

  4. Shashank says:

    Have fun in ZAMBIA!!…

  5. Kwame Osei says:

    Sounds fun. Is it your first time? You’ll love and want to go back. I’m from Ghana.

  6. Guyomar says:

    First understand, then seek to be understood. It’s very true that sometimes we rush to solve a ‘problem’ and to do good without taking the time to find out whether something really is wrong.

    Anyway, it sounds like you’ll be doing good work there. I hope you enjoy your stay and learn new things. You won’t be that far at all from me. Lol.

  7. Santosh says:

    Mitra L.,

    You have a great trip to Zambia, hope you will really enjoy educating the Mwape community. By the way, I have a question – Why MIT has most of the student programs in Africa? Why not in South Asia? There are also some impoverished countries like – Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, etc in South Asia which need community awareness programs. Why not you help MIT to reach these countries?

    With best regards


  8. Daniel S. says:

    Interesting, very interesting.

  9. jasmine says:

    that’s the class i will definitely take when i go to MIT!

  10. Solomon says:

    Kwame are you really from Ghana. I am also from Ghana. Can you tell me which part of Ghana you are coming from.

  11. Karen says:

    That’s really amazing. Can you talk more about D-Lab? How long do you spend organizing projects? Do you definitely get to carry them out? How long does it last.


  12. anton says:

    Have fun, do good work, but do take care of yourself. Be safe and enjoy each minute. Make wise decisions (not very hard for an MIT-er Im sure!) smile

  13. Chris Yaluma says:

    Hey Mitra,

    Zambia is my lovely home country but I am currently in the UK doing my IB Diploma programme. I would definately love to attend MIT. It’s such an influential institution. I assure you of big time fun down there! ENJOY!!

  14. mahesh says:

    you are indian. i proud of you.please massage.

  15. Mike says:

    Wow, that’s amazing work! I’d love to help a community out while travelling

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