Vermont Technical College sent four students and a professor to Arusha, Tanzania to give children access to hot water for the first time in their lives.
The VTC students accomplished this by installing a solar water heater they engineered for clean bathing and cooking at Lohada’s Camp Joshua Christian School.
A Tanzanian-run, non-profit charity organization, Lohada serves hundreds of impoverished children and their families as well as the elderly. Located in one of the poorest regions in rural Arusha, Lohada consists of Camp Joshua and Camp Moses, educational institutions for preschool through secondary school students. More than 140 disadvantaged youth ages 7-15 currently reside there, and about 60 more commute in for the day-school which is taught in English.
According to its website, Lohada strives to “empower families by educating children and helping their guardians to break the bonds of prostitution, alcoholism and abuse; and to be a guardian to children who have no one because they have been abandoned, orphaned or abused.”
Those who traveled to Arusha were engineering technology students Cory Dalsimer, Drew Gough, Jarek Hammerl, Chris Sabatino and Professor Emeritus Ken Vandermark of the Electrical Engineering Technology Department at VTC.
Vandermark also happens to be on the Lohada Board of Directors. He first visited Arusha in 2002 and has returned three times since. This recent trip was the first time that students joined him.
Lohada currently relies on burning wood for its water heating needs. To conserve energy, the students’ water tank uses trapped solar heat which is cycled through copper pipes and a water mixer.
This raises the water temperature up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The thermosiphon system of the water tank is based on natural convection which circulates the trapped solar heat without the necessity of a mechanical pump.
High school students from Lohada’s post-secondary school have been trained on how to fix and provide upkeep for the new system, and some of Lohada’s students made smaller versions of the water heater in a science class taught by the Vermont Tech students.
A prototype of the passive solar water heater can still be seen collecting sunlight outside Green Hall on VTC’s Randolph Center campus.
“One thing that is always memorable for me is to visit the slum area where the kids are from, and people are understandably not generally happy, then return to the orphanage where the kids are laughing, playing, and wanting to learn,” Vandermark told The Herald. “The love I have been given by these kids is incredible.”
This article originally appeared in The Herald of Randolph on Aug. 10.