Hi Grace, Sorry that I mistakenly thought that I had already sent you a response to your postings. I have read through everything here and on your blog at gracedesignblog.blogspot.com. I think that you have many interesting directions, but have not yet arrived at a suitable idea for your thesis. It appears that you favorite idea so far is to do something involving abandoned children in China. That's a very interesting topic, but I am having difficulty understanding how a product that you will create can improve life for these children. You may have a good product idea, but I can't find it yet.
On the other hand, I am very interested in two of the products that you mention in your mapping assignment. In particular, I am thinking about the system for creating drinkable (potable, not portable) water using very low-tech methods. Lack of fresh water is perhaps the most significant health problem in the world today.
We read, "Diarrhoeal diseases cause ninety percent of all deaths of children under five years old in developing countries. Malnutrition, especially protein-energy malnutrition, can decrease the children's resistance to infections, including water-related diarrhoeal diseases. In 2000-2003, 769,000 children under five years old in sub-Saharan Africa died each year from diarrhoeal diseases. As a result of only thirty-six percent of the population in the sub-Saharan region having access to proper means of sanitation, more than 2000 children's lives are lost every day. In south Asia, 683,000 children under five years old died each year from diarrhoeal disease from 2000-2003. During the same time period, in developed countries, 700 children under five years old died from diarrhoeal disease. Improved water supply reduces diarrhea morbidity by twenty-five percent and improvements in drinking water through proper storage in the home and chlorination reduces diarrhea episodes by thirty-nine percent" (WHO/UNICEF, Water for life: making it happen)
Are you focused now on the adoption issue, or would you consider switching? I think that, given your skill and thoughtfulness, you could develop a great new product for small-scale solar desalinization. I know that there are local NFPs who would be interested in seeing your work in this area. Take a look at this article about solar stills. It would very interesting to try to create a home-scale product that could produce enough drinking water from brackish water or sea water.