Ever since we had dinner with Laura and Hal from Solar Suitcase I have become acutely aware of the necessities of life. In the US we take for granted that we have power and water available to us at the tips of our fingers. I know we have big storms and lose power for a day or two and sometimes a week, but when it comes back it is reliable and safe. In addition, we don’t just have water, we typically have hot water as well. When you spend time in a place that doesn’t have these things you realize where the challenge starts.
Without power and clean drinking water nothing else can really happen. Reducing the infant mortality rate in Uganda was not an issue of medicine, more training or anything like that. It was an issue of being able to see when someone was bleeding to death in the middle of the night with no lights. The issue was using dirty water to clean wounds and having those patients get even more infections than they had before. Recently many people have said that the Internet should be a human right, what about power and clean water? The use of the Solar Suitcase has reduced infant mortality in Uganda by 70%, that is no accident. The people are capable, they just couldn’t see at night.
As U-TOUCH continues to focus our energy on making a difference here we need to start focusing our students on solving some of these problems by using the technology we are providing them. As part of the U-TOUCH curriculum we require students to conduct research; collect their information in WORD, calculate their statistics in Excel and present their findings in PowerPoint. To date all of the reports have been focused on health and wellness, which has been the agenda of AMREF, our strategic partner. Moving forward we need to focus the best and brightest on power and water and help these communities try to solve these challenges themselves.
We have said since the beginning, brilliance is equally distributed; opportunity is not. We need to provide these brilliant kids with the information so that they can solve these problems themselves. In Uganda today 78% of the population, yes, that is correct, 78% of the population is considered youth. Their parents were killed during the LRA war and their grandparents are beginning to pass away. They have had very little parenting, little access to real knowledge and still they have not lost hope. U-TOUCH can provide a window to so many if we do this right.
The answer is right in front of us and now we need to make it happen.
‘Til next time …..