Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Picking a Project out of a Haystack

Today, our MIT-RF team buckled down for a looong meeting on campus. We sat down and talked about all our findings/surveying the past two days and the major problems each of our groups (one for health, disability, and education) found in our respective areas. It was really exciting to be brainstorming several solutions to the major problems we found (there are sooo many problems that need to be addressed in the slums). Socially accepted, sustainable, and implementable solutions are very hard to create so we racked our brains in several thinking sessions.

After about 3-4 hours of deliberation over several projects we had come up with and dealing with the possible threats to each project's success we decided that our project would concern a community waste disposal scheme.

Basics of our project:
Problem- Community members throw garbage into open waterways within community and other public spaces, which negatively impacts the sanitation level - and thereby the health (insects breed in stagnant water and water-borne illnesses are common) - of the community (from report courtesy of Cat). This contamination of waterways occurs because the dumpsters are usually quite far and people find putting trash into the water a fast and easy way to get trash away from their homes.

Some seriously disgusting trash/waste congested open waterways (flank all the alleyways).

Solution- place local trashbins, funded in part by the community. The community will be educated to place all their trash in these local bins rather than their waterways. These local bins will be emptied 1-2 times a day (into the government dumpster, often overfilled and neglected) by a community employed individual who is paid by the community.

In order for us to carry out this project and encourage its sustainability within 10 days we know we have a lot of obstacles to overcome and I hope we have a lot of luck our side. Lots of our project depends on community attitude, a not-so-simple community payment scheme for the removal of the trash, and the need for backing by local NGOs (ASHA, YWCA) for us to keep this project going after we leave. But I firmly believe its a project that if implemented will bring about great change in the community we choose to work with and has the potential to become a working role-model for nearby slums.

Just for fun: After work, we were craving some American pizza so after a 2 hour hunt for a Dominoe's/Pizza Hut that would deliver we finally got our pizza. So delicious, we miss our greasy pizzas :).

Cat, Julie, and Yamilee in my room enjoying our Dominoe's!

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