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May 30, 2017

Hi all, Nisha writing for the last time this May! We had decided to take the day off…so naturally we had planned several hours of meetings in the evening. We were able to sleep in an, started the day off right with eggs and toast. To continue our leisurely morning, we decided to go to the InOrbit mall to do some shopping. As were about to leave the guesthouse, I got a call from Rajeshbhai who invited us to lunch. We met with him and were treated to a decadent traditional Gujarati meal!

After lunch, we went to Fab India to complete our shopping trip and headed back to the guesthouse. We spent the next hour relaxing, drinking chai, and getting ready for the evening’s meetings.

Upon arriving to the office, we were able to take a much-anticipated tour of Lavacast and learn about the structure of their production line! We headed to Barola next for our community meeting. The panchayat member, Tinabhai, had assembled some community members to learn more about BLUElab and the Setco Foundation. W...

May 29, 2017

Hi all, Natalia here. Today we woke up bright and early to a steaming hot bowl of Maggi noodles. We piled into the car around 8am. During the ride, with no time to waste, we set about preparing for our end-of-trip presentation that morning for the Setco Foundation and R&D team.

At the office, we put the finishing touches on the PowerPoint and were super hyped for the meeting. As soon as everyone was ready, we filed into the conference room with Rajeshbhai, Salmaben, Elsa, Vidhi, and Parth, and presented our progress on the stoves and toilets projects, the process we’ve been using for needs filtering, and our plan for communicating with Setco and with our partner community after the trip. Our presentation was generally well-received, and it was nice to have the chance to talk about the work we’ve completed this month as well as where the team is headed from here.

We then took a break for lunch, which included a yoghurt-y desert called shrikund. I’ve definitely mentioned this desert before...

May 28, 2017

Hey all, Nisha here! We started the day off right, rested and with omelets chock full of onions and peppers, buttered toast, and my daily cup of cold milk. On our way to the office, Kabir squeezed into the back of the car so we could all talk and work during the car ride. Upon arriving, we divided up an extensive list of things to do amongst ourselves as we prepared for our morning meetings.

We sat down with Salmaben and Rajeshbhai to discuss the results of our preliminary needs filtering process (in which we narrowed down the list of potential needs our team could address in our next project). We answered questions and provided more explanations behind the few needs that we had filtered down to from our original list of nearly 30 needs. Next, we moved into discussing or communication plan for this upcoming semester. We proposed a detailed outline of how we would stay in close contact with Setco and Barola during our Fall semester and were excited by their positive response to the plan.

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May 27, 2017

cout << “Hello World, it’s Kabir”;

Breakfast, chai, the whole shebang. We told Sabirbhai to come pick us up at 8:30 so relative to the 7:45’s we have been telling him for the past several days, we were able to “sleep in”. As soon as we got to the office the guard stopped our car and asked if there was a “Sarah Rogers”. What we didn’t put together was that the previous day we had ordered for a representative to collect a water sample with us in Dolatpura for toilets validation and had given them Sarah’s contact information. The water testers were 30 minutes early and we started scrambling to get Sarah and Natalia ready for the day ahead of them.

From there on it was smooth sailing. Sarah and Natalia were able to go and collect the water sample with Vidhi by their side and record the whole process for the future. For Nisha and me, it could have gone far better… We had planned to go with Salmaben to meet with Barola’s Sarpanch (head of local government). We had already met with the Panch...

May 26, 2017

Hi all, Sarah here! Busy day today, so bear with me. We rushed ourselves out of the guesthouse early, to arrive to the office before a scheduled meeting with Salmaben. We arrived just in time to have a nice cup of chai, then had a very productive talk about our plans for the rest of the trip. Afterwards, we collected our things, picked up Parth from the R&D department, and headed to Dolatpura to meet the contractor making changes to the toilet.

On arrival, we were pleased to find that the soak pit we designed to address the runoff of washwater from the toilet was mostly completed! The only thing missing was the sand-gravel filter to protect the ground water. The contractor then showed us the custom lids Setco made to cover the openings of the cover material chutes. After a couple slight adjustments, we were satisfied that the covers would fit well. We noted that the air outlets for the composting bins had not been changed yet, but were assured that they would be fixed by the next day.

Th...

May 25, 2017

Hi all, Natalia here! Our morning began with a kind of spicy pancake, mangoes, and obviously chai. We headed to the office bright and early, knowing it was going to be a busy day. After catching up on our blog posts and other, more serious, forms of documentation, we headed to Barola, accompanied by Rajeshbhai, for another round of one-on-one interviews.

We began our interviews in Motu faliya. Nisha, Sarah, and I talked to Kusumben and her family, including her two adorable toddler grandsons. They shared a lot of detailed information regarding their water management and agricultural practices. Meanwhile, Kabir met a fellow by the name of Jadeep Singh Jaswat Singh Rator, and picked up some interesting notes on the difficulties of farming millet. Before leaving the faliya, we located the house of Sangeetaben – who was at our focus group discussion and had asked to talk to us – and set up a time for an interview.

Relocating to Nishal faliya, we separated into two groups again. While Kabir a...

May 24, 2017

Hey y’all, Nisha here! My first day back from Ahmedabad started off on the right foot with a cup of cold milk and, as expected, omelets and toast. After arriving to the office, we prepared for our first day of targeted interviews during which we would interview community members in Barola that we had already met in order to get more detailed information regarding points that they had brought up earlier. We planned to go to Barola to ask two women that we had already interviewed, Ramilaben and Rekhaben, when they would be available later that day to meet with us.

We met up with Salmaben who was planning on heading to the field with us. Upon arriving in Barola, Namrataben helped us track down where Rekhaben lived in Motu falia. Sarah and Natalia stayed with Salmaben to conduct the interview while Namrataben guided Kabir and me to Nishal faliya. We were disheartened at first to find that Ramilaben was not home. As we contemplated what our next move would be, we heard Ramilaben call to us f...

May 23, 2017

Hi all, Sarah here. Day 20 started off with the normal hubbub of breakfast, malaria pill reminders, material gathering, and chai; but instead of going to the office, the plan was to find a wifi source to skype our US team. So we all piled into the car (sans Natalia whose stomach had been acting up) expecting our ever reliant driver Sabirbhai to know where he was going. We soon realized that somewhere in the planning process, it didn’t get communicated that we weren’t going to the office, nor did Sabirbhai expect there to be any wifi cafes open at 9am on a Saturday. Nonetheless, we checked 3 wifi cafes (all closed), a hotel (only has wifi for guests), McDonalds & KFC (also both closed), and finally decided that it was a lost cause & settled on a conference call in the guesthouse instead. It was great to hear some familiar voices on the call. It took much longer than expected to figure out the importance of values we created to help us filter needs statements for potential team projects....

May 21, 2017

Hey, everyone! It’s Rachel again, checking in for the last time. Today started off like most others – with chai, too many biscuits, and breakfast. We got to the office slightly later than we had hoped to, but still had plenty of time before our 10am meeting with Barola’s sarpanch that we had planned a few days ago. Rajeshbhai checked in with him and discovered that he was still traveling and therefore unable to meet until after the weekend. We decided that Sarah (the birthday girl!) and I would be attending the stoves-related presentation that was scheduled for 11am in Medapur and the rest of the travelers (Kabir, Nisha, and Natalia) would be heading to Barola at the same time to begin formal interviews with people we had met through focus groups and our preliminary visits to the community.

Before we could head out to the field, Salmaben came over to the table that acts as our home base and began moving things from its surface. We followed suit, and began pulling out our...

May 20, 2017

Hi all, Natalia here. Today we began with our typical morning routine of breakfast, chai, and naps in the car. We arrived at the office ready for our second round of focus groups in Barola, this time in Nishal faliya.

The women’s focus group drew an impressive crowd of over 20 women and almost the same number of kids. Nisha did an amazing job of managing the massive influx of information and connecting with the participants, while somehow still managing to translate back to the rest of us. We learned about a wide array of problems faced by this part of the community. During the mapping activity, Sarah took out her camera, and many of the participants asked to have their pictures taken with us. Meanwhile Kabir carried out another focus group and mapping activity down the street with a smaller group of men.

After the mapping activities and photo shoot, a few community members offered to show us two wells nearby. It was interesting to see these water sources while taking the opportunity to...

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