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Heather Fleming

Menlo Park, CA, United States


Member since August 17, 2008

  • Gary Zeiff in Bukoba, Tanzania


    Continuing Gary Zeiff's story of his travels in Tanzania. Gary is on Catapult Design's technology advisory committee:

    "5AM call for prayer wake me up. I'm dreaming that I'm back in Arusha, backtracking to when I landed in Kilimanjaro, but actually I'm in Bukoba. The dream is full of anxiety, but most of that has really washed away, now that I'm so close. Perhaps too it is about the new set of challenges to face. Bigger and more complicated, these are about starting the project, helping people, and putting tools and technology where it might not have been in the past.

    Wandering around Bukoba with Joel and Cynthia I see a small town much like those in India or even Haiti. Chaotic, noisy, and even dirty, people go about their lives much like they do anythwere else in the world. It's exciting to try out the few words of Swahili and see people's faces light up. This is the small connection that makes me happy that I'm here. We meet William from Kiroyerea Tours who has helped me with my inter Tanzania travels. Joel met him earlier and we will get some equipment sent to his office for pick up later. He's a warm affable man with a quick smile and generous spirit. He knows Leonard, our main contact for this project and explains that he is very well known in the area. William explains that he has done a lot of good for the people living here. Its' exciting to know that we have lucked onto a good contact.

    We investigate batteries and stores selling solar equipment. A few older panels and inverters. We talk to a shop owner about batteries and try to make connections for later use. We wander through the food market; Cynthia and Joel fearless in the lead. Joel has made good use of his time here, learning Swahili, meeting the players in town, and understanding how things work.

    One of William's tour guides will drive us and our equipment from Bukoba to Karagwe. So after lunch of rice, beans and some type of meat we walk back to Kiroyera tours and meet Mr Super. He's a gentle, older man who speaks excellent English. There is some complications as they try to change the American dollars I've paid them with Tanzanian shillings and the bank won't accept bills printed 1996 or earlier. (Dave look at your USD and bring only bills older than 1996) I couldn't get a reasonable explanation, other than they might think the bills will no longer be accepted from their end or be de-valued, a common problem for Africans in general.

    After a delay we are off, and drive through beautiful countryside. The road is paved until the split and we turn left onto a red clay packed road. Mr. Super doesn't let up on the speed and we climb towards Kayanga (aka Karagwe). We finally arrive and unload at the hotel called Home. I go over to say hello to Leonard and he and I discuss the project. He is very excited to see us finally there. He has been talking about the project for a long time and had hoped we'd start in September. This would have been very good as the rainy season would start in October, and the harvest starts then too. People will have less money to spend on lights. Unfortunately through circumstances beyond our control we could only get to TZ now. None the less he is happy to finally have us here. There is a lot of work to do, but he has some great ideas. KADERES, his organization has a radio station which can advertise the lights. Since he already has a contract with the SACCO's he can really run the local operators. This was our original intention. It would be really difficult for us to oversee 20 plus charging stations in far flung regions of Karagwe. However, there is some risk in this too, as we won't have oversight. We'll have to work these details out. In addition to lights, economic development is essential to our project. It's isn't only about lights but employment and investment. This will give KADERES more credibility and income and help us achieve our goals. Leonard is passionate about his work, and it shows how connected he is to it emotionally. He is important because of the work he is doing. Everyone knows him and his family. He is already thinking about how to get the lights from Dar to Karagwe, who will work the stations and how this will run. I remind him that we need to back up and deal with a few operational things first. Lawyers and contracts are always the beginning.

    We walk around the town and then stop by Diana's Annex for dinner. I wonder who Diana is and where the first place is that this place would be the annex. After a dinner and beers I finally alspeep for first full night. Tomorrow comes too quickly."

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Product Design for the Developing World

Contact Heather Fleming
Catapult Design

My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design