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2022-01-19 - 2022-01-22 Discussion with Women’s Groups in Yumbe

1. Discussion and Feasibility Study for establishing a Filter Production Site in Yumbe

The women’s groups in Yumbe would like to collaboratively set up and run a filter production site in the Yumbe area. The production of filters would not only provide the area with clean, household drinking water, but provide jobs and empowerment for the women of Yumbe.

GFI first identified a core group of women eager to work with us to receive training and set up the filter facility. Once we had our core group, we spent the rest of the time tracing down clay samples from the area, finding a source of rice hulls and sawdust, and finding a good location for the site.

We collected samples from 6 different sites. Some of the clay had to be eliminated due to its location. They were in a locations too inaccessible to be considered. We set the clay sample out to dry with the intention of taking them to Rwanda with us were we could run clay test samples using a small electric kiln we had left there the last time we visited in November 2021.

They produce a lot of rice in the area so finding rice hulls was not difficult. The next town over had a place where the hulls were removed from rice and then burned. This would be an good source for hulls if we decided on using them as the burnout material. A local grain grinder could turn the hulls into powder for us for testing. We were told there were local sources of sawdust in the area but we did not have time to visit them.

GFI felt that the best way to ensure the success of the filter production site was to build it on a piece of purchased land in the area. Renting land posed legal issues (or lack thereof). We felt they would need a piece of land with good access to the main road, be a short distance for the women to travel from town (mainly on foot), have a shallow water table for an hand dug well to be created and potentially have a good source of clay. We looked at a few possibilities for land and we found 2 pieces with very good potential. We have met with the land owner and are now waiting for a discussion about price and availability.

2. Discussion and Feasibility Study for Establishing a Women’s Training Center in Yumbe

Over the course of the 2 and a half weeks we were in Yumbe, I met with many women’s groups. We often laid blankets down under a large mango tree near the CCEDUC office and talked for hours about life in their village. Many, many sad stories were shared. They spoke of hunger, domestic violence, death during childbirth, lack of education, gender inequality and their need of skills to enable them to earn a living.

I asked the women what was the single most needed thing I could provide that would positively impact their lives. They answered, “skills!”. From that moment on, we discussed how to start a women’s training center in the town of Yumbe.

The director of CCDUC, Innocent, said we could begin by using his school’s open-air classrooms on the weekends and during the months of schools breaks. The only thing that would be required is a small, separate, lockable building that the women could store their materials and equipment in. (About $2500 USD)

I spoke with women about the kinds of skills that they would like to learn. They expressed interest soap making, sewing, animal husbandry, products to make and sell at the market like knitting and weaving and small business skills, to name a few.

I envision finding a women to direct the programs. I would work with the director to plan a 6 months schedule of programs. They would need to find local instructors with knowledge and pay them from the small fee charged to attend. I propose GFI offer a small start-up budget with funds to buy some materials for some of the workshops.

One of the Yumbe women named Lenny Christine, expressed an interest in coming to the Adamah Art Center of Bethel Horizons where I am the director of the art programs, and staying for a few weeks to learn how our programming is done. Our model could be modified to fit the needs of the women’s center in s center in Yumbe. While Christine was visiting Bethel Horizons, she could be introduced to ceramics, knitting, weaving, and many other skills that she may find valuable for the women in Yumbe.

3. Making Soap using Wood Ash

Commercial soap is very expensive to purchase at the Yumbe market. The women were very interested in finding a cheaper alternative. I offered a training to make soap from the lye water (potassium hydroxide) made from soaking wood ash.

I asked women to bring me the ash from their cooking stoves. The ash needed to be from the burning of hardwoods. Ash from soft woods would not produce the potassium hydroxide strength required to make soap. The women all delivered ash and placed it in a large bucket in front of the CCEDUC office. The day before the soap making program, we filled the bucket of ashes with water to allow the ash to soak overnight. In the morning we strained the ash and collected the water. The lye water was boiled down to the correct concentration. We use an egg to gage the correct concentration. When an egg floats in the lye water, it is ready to use. We then mixed the concentrated lye water in a 1:1 ratio with palm oil an mixed it until it saponified. The soap was then poured in a form and set overnight to set up.

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