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My experience working with URF has been inspiring, cooperative and effective.

“With the implementation of the solar energy system at the Academy, I was able to finally see the influence that our work has on the local community.  All the people at the URF and at the Hope Integrated Academy have been helpful and understanding of everything involved in the completion of our project.”

This piece was written by Rich in preparation for a news article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in 2010.

———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Sat, Mar 13, 2010 at 12:59 PM
Subject: URF article

Hi A.J.,

My name is Rich Allevi and I am a senior in the Mechanical Engineering Dept. at Virginia Tech. I am also the leader of our chapter of Engineers Without Borders’ Uganda Project.  I was contacted by John Mary regarding the article that you are putting together about Uganda, and I have written some responses to a few questions which can be found below. Here is what I have put together:

a. EWB Virginia Tech partnered with the Uganda Rural Fund in 2007 and has since been involved in helping the local community in several ways.  In the summer of 2009, our team of engineers traveled to Uganda and to the Hope Integrated Academy of the first time.  The purpose of this trip was to install a solar energy system at the school and in  the community to provide back-up power during blackouts.  The grid power is inconsistent, and blackouts were occurring frequently and lasting for up to 36 hours.  This caused problems characterized not only by a lack of power for sufficient lighting at night, but also by the inability to effectively teach computer classes to the students at the academy. We completed the installation over a ten day period, and will return to perform any required maintenanc this coming May.

Our next goal is to establish a community-wide solar lantern program this coming summer (2010).  The system will include one central “charging station” consisting of a solar panel and a battery, which community members will be able to access in order to charge portable solar lanterns constructed mostly from recycled materials that can be found in the area.  We hope to teach the students at the Hope Integrated Academy to construct these lanterns, which they will then be able to distribute among local friends and family.  This program will also specifically address the need for lanterns at the Nazareth Orphanage, which is outside the local community but within the support of the Uganda Rural Fund and EWB.  Our team was able to visit the Nazareth Orphanage during our last visit in 2009, and we hope to continue to work with the orphanage in the future.

b. I became the leader of the Virginia Tech chapter of Engineers Without Borders’ Uganda Project  2008.  Since then, I have been increasingly inspired to help with the design and implementation of projects that can help to promote happier, healthier and more sustainable lives for people in Uganda.  With the implementation of the solar energy system at the Academy, I was able to finally see the influence that our work has on the local community.  This comes not only from the raised spirits of the students at the academy, but also from the ability to see overall positive change in the lifestyle and productivity of the local people.  Because of the successful relationship that our team has cultivated with the URF over the past few years, I am inspired and willing to continue this type of work throughout the remainder of my time at Virginia Tech and throughout my career.

c. My experience working with the Uganda Rural Fund has been inspiring, cooperative and effective.  All the people at the URF and at the Hope Integrated Academy have been helpful and understanding of everything involved in the completion of our project.  The communication between our team and members of the URF has been extremely efficient, which has allowed us to accomplish a great amount during the short time we have been partnered.  I look forward to working with the URF in the future.  Even when I am no longer involved with Engineers Without Borders at Virginia Tech, I can easily see myself traveling to the Hope Integrated Academy and the Nazareth Orphanage in the future in order to keep myself involved with such a wonderful and good hearted organization and effort.

Rich Allevi
EWB-Virginia Tech Chapter