iDE is hoping that by testing the waters, with focus group discussions, co creation workshops, interviews, and more, we can identify the proper design that pAge can help with to kill the pathogens in the cooking water, and hope for a better Bangladesh.
Travel from Dhaka to Barisal. One of the most painful drives of my life. I took lots of Dramamine, and hoped to sleep the whole ride. But Bangladesh drivers are insane: they honk to let other cars they know that they are there, so all 9 hours my driver was honking… and every bump we flew over I thought I was going to puke and die more. We stayed in a nice hotel, except my room was 503 but its on the 4th floor… Bangladesh’s numbers are all off by one. Interestingly enough, for dinner, we ate chinese food. It was tasty, and it turns out, we ate there because the rest of the time we would have to eat Bangladesh food.
My first focus group. The WASH team lead lead us in hoping that nothing bad would go wrong - and they do go wrong sometimes. We got out of the van traveling from Barisal to Charbaria for an hour. It was hot and dry, and we walked in a little pathway until we got to a group of women who were sitting in a circle, excited that we got there. Our Bangladesh translator asked a lot of questions - what time they collect water, how much it rains, if they knew brand names, how they knew it, would they buy pAge drinking paper… etc.
We eventually did a demo and they were allowed to pour paper through the designs, but i was so embarrassed since many of them didn’t work. One of the designs was a bucket to bucket, but the water overflowed and it was clearly a waste of water. another one was clogged so much by the dirt in the water.
Some of the women talking where really smart though. They questioned about the head and the flow and asked for larger paper so they could have more water filtered at once and the higher pressure could make the water flow faster.
A co-creation day. We headed to breakfast, ate parata (bread), a fried egg (with onions), and dal (lentils). Everything is yellow. Coffee was more like a hot chocolate, a nestle with powdered milk. We headed out to a location where there was a pond, canal, and river real close to each other, and set up camp.
I was so excited, put on my nice rainboots so I could waddle in the water collecting my sample. I soon had an audience, little kids around the village gathered to watch me in my lab gloves pipette water and take the temperature. However, my mercury thermometer did not survive the plane trip, and I was sweating profusely at the high temperature that my thermometer was stuck at, 35 degrees Celsius.
All of the sudden, thunder roared, and we quickly packed up and went back to the office. That was the best decision ever made - a quiet, air conditioned space to do lab work, not surrounded by hundreds of village people.
After we were done, we realized we couldn’t leave, because it was prayer time for the gate keeper so we couldn’t get out. Our lunch too, was delayed, and tired from exhaustion, I climbed in the car for Bhola.
We arrived at night, ate dinner in a conservative area where everything was yellow, and went to sleep in our tiny rooms. The hotel seemed like it was owned by little boys… they ran the place. I once woke up early and saw them in their sleeping bags, in the hotel hallways, so they can do our call and beckoning within a seconds notice. I felt so bad…. like its child labor…
Focus group day 3, Charpata, Saturday June 6, 2015.
Weather: humid. Comments? Local people say it hasn’t rained in 2 months.
Tensions: are high. The group might not like our filter paper because they don’t have water.
Distance from town: 30 minutes
Drinking tubewell water, collecting pond water for cooking. But also filter by using their saree’s over the bucket - does not actually do much, since cloth pore size is huge. There are skin rashes, and 5 people with liver disease. Sick from not being able to wash enough or washing with the bad water - does the skin burn with algae?
Quote of the day:
Q: “Do you think water is hygienic?”
A: “No, but we have no alternative.”
Afterwards, we took the water directly from that place - even though they had so few. We collected the river, dark pond, and light pond that was nearby. Gross, because the sewage system dump was on the river, mixing downwards to all the families, and many of their ponds had dried up, leaving lots of algae.
We went back to the office and started testing, and counted from the tests the day before. The numbers of bacteria on the plates were horrible - too numerous to count, but i did, and there were 1000s of bacterias and E coli’s on the plate.