Author Archive

Blog Post #4

1. *Based on your life experience, skills and interests, what would a design process that is both uniquely yours and effective look like?

Our group decided to do this question separately since it was so personal.  It is beneficial to be aware of your group members’ different design processes that way you can adapt and see where they are coming from in times of disagreement.  For me, visualization is a huge part of my process.  I not only have to define the problem but be able to actually see or picture it in my head.  It can’t just be a high maternal mortality rate.  I need to see the whole picture.  Before identifying my personal limits, I think it is important to brainstorm any and all ideas.  No idea is too big and too far fetched at this stage.  If you limit yourself based on what you THINK you can accomplish, you may miss out on your best idea.  After I compile my list of ideas is when I look at what I can actually do.  You don’t want to restrict yourself from certain ideas too early on in the process because after some research you may find out something far fetched isn’t actually that far out of reach.

2. *Identify your three most important stakeholders and list five UNIQUE attributes for each one of them. 

Mothers→ low income, located in rural areas of Sierra Leone, price sensitivity goes up during the wet season, Religions: Islam and Christianity, low education level 

World Hope International→ Organization, Core Values: Transformation, Sustainability, Empowerment, and Collaboration, Christian, Motive: “To empower the poorest of the poor around the world so they can become agents of change within their communities.” (https://www.worldhope.org/about-us/), some staff members located in the U.S. and Makeni, Sierra Leone

The ordinary citizen of Sierra Leone: this is a key stakeholder because of the importance of mothers in the Sierra Leone household. Attributes include: dependence on the mother’s contribution to the household, personal interest/stake in the life of each mother, ability to encourage/support the mother throughout their pregnancy, influence on the mother’s mental well-being, and the motivation they may provide the mothers to seek better health when they think about how their health (the mother’s health) affects the whole family unit.

3. *Identify three ways in which you will validate your project concept, technology, usability, and business model.

Validate Business Model→ Does it solve a real burning problem? Yes, Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world.  A lot of women go untested for UTI and preeclampsia which can lead to birth complications.  

Competitive advantages over other ventures? Strong community connections on the ground, incredibly important for distributing and gaining trust from CHWs.

How do they solve the problem now? Currently people in rural areas of Sierra Leone visit Community Health Posts (CHPs) to receive basic medical care, however they are normally not screened by any diagnostic test due to lack of resources.  

Validate Usability→ How does it compare to the user experience of alternative

approaches? 9 parameter UTI test strip→ much more expensive, more complicated with 9 vs the 3 our strip has (color scheme harder to analyze). 

How easy/difficult is it for each stakeholder to interact with the product? CHWs are shown how to use it and read the results during training. 

Will people use your product? We currently have UHWs purchasing and using the test strips.

4. Give three examples of something very interesting you learned from a friend that was a completely alien concept to you.

  1. The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, also known as the Frequency Illusion, is the thought that something that was recently introduced to you is now suddenly popping up everywhere.  You feel as if everyone is talking about this specific thing and you’re seeing it everywhere but it has nothing to do with how often it shows up.  Your brain can now identify the object and notice when it’s around you.
  2. The Six Degrees of Separation is the concept that any two people in the world can be connected by 6 or fewer social connections. For example, my sister’s friend is cousins with Adam Levine so I have 3 degrees of separation from Adam Levine.
  3. The Hawthorne Effect is the concept that people modify their behaviors based on the knowledge that they are being observed.   This is a huge issue within the social sciences because it can affect the integrity of data.

Blog Post #3

List the top 20 questions your team needs to answer to advance the venture forward. Categorize the questions if necessary.

  1. Who are the people we are seeking to impact?
  2. How is the impact distributed across different groups?
  3. How does Ukweli’s success in Sierra Leone impact the international system?
  4. Why do we care about making an impact?
  5. How is this realistically translated into their lives?
  6. How can our model be applied to similar countries?
  7. How is our impact measured?
  8. How does this venture empower women?
  9. What type of connections do we need to branch out of the Bombali District?
  10. What is the future of this venture?
  11. What are the challenges that we are encountering on the ground right now?
  12. How do we leverage our existing social network to expand operations?
  13. What are other ways we can strengthen the CHW network within our control?
  14. How can we organize data in a way that is easy to understand and accessible?
  15. What is some data we already have?
  16. What is some data we still need to collect?
  17. What are some realistic ways we can quantify the success of our project? (e.g. comparing maternal mortality rates in Ukweli vs. non-Ukweli tested mothers and the challenges associated with timely data collection)
  18. How could additional funding assist in our efforts?
  19. How can we construct a reliable and sustainable chain of communication with UHW?
  20. Are there more effective methods to increase accountability/oversight?

Develop and Visualize the Theory of Change (Logic Model) for your venture. 

Inputs Outputs Outcomes
Money/operations funding

Partnerships w/ health workers + World Hope

# of women tested positive

# of women tested in general 

# of UHWs trained

# of boxes bought by UHWs

The maternal mortality rate of women tested vs not tested 

*Lower maternal mortality rate alongside tangible data

Establish a network outside of our current base of operations

Start mobilizing Ukweli beyond Bombali district

SPRING GOALS

  • Bylaws on the roles/responsibilities of UHWs: Zach 
  • Organize a data collection method that creates an easy way to compile relevant data in a way that can be easily presentable: Spencer, Noah, Anneke
  • Establish a chain of communication with Ukweli Certified Health Workers via WhatsApp: Skyler
  • E4C Systems approach article: Zach 
  • Proposals/abstracts submitted to IEEE
  • IRB approvals finalized/submitted/approved for US and Sierra Leone: Rohan
  • Service Level Agreement (SLA)
  • Submission of Grants to external funding sources: Anneke
  • Presentation of quality control outcomes of test strips: Rohan
  • Implementation of PHU Data collection books
  • Create database of each form to observe trends and running total of # of CHWs trained, amount of strips sold, $ which has been invested

SUMMER GOALS

  • Finalization of IEEE Paper 
    • Idea: discussing leveraging the existing social network and the outreach of CHWs and associated training successes/pitfalls in the process
  • Implementation of By-Laws to the UHWs by Hassan
  • Submission of grants to external funding sources: Anneke 
  • Implementation of PHU Data collection books 
  • Establish connections/possible operations outside our current realm of operations (Bombali District)
  • Initiating the proposed chain of communication with the UHW
  • Utilize data from the fieldwork to generate more marketing to support project, specifically $ / lives saved (culmination of other data = number of positive tests, referrals given out)

Blog Post #2

  1. Give three compelling examples of how cultural issues affect your project. Cultural issues occur when people’s ideals and values clash because of differing cultures.  The way you view the world is heavily dependent on the life you had growing up and the values that were instilled in you during childhood.   Cultural issues can occur between places that are close together but when you go to a different country, they become even more apparent. For example, in Sierra Leone, their views of gender and gender roles are much different from the U.S.  In the U.S., women are free to be independent individuals in their finances, health, and social life. On the other hand, women in Sierra Leone have less freedom when it comes to their health and finances. For the Ukweli Project, one of the main issues that we want to tackle is encouraging and empowering women to be proactive when it comes to their health.   Women also hold low wage jobs or are expected to do all housework and farming. This limits their potential and ability to have full control over their lives. The value of time is another cultural issue that we will encounter. In the U.S., everyone is very punctual and does not like it when their time is wasted but in Sierra Leone, the people live a much more relaxed lifestyle where time doesn’t play a huge role.   This can be an issue on time-sensitive projects that we want to get done on the field. Another cultural issue is their views on health and religion. Some Sierra Leoneans believe in miracles or acts of God to heal their ailments. This may become a problem when talking to people about the Ukweli test strips and other medical issues.
  1. Have you experienced or observed any of these social situations at home? Describe at least three such situations. Although U.S. and Sierra Leone differ, you can still see similarities.  The U.S. also has a culture that seemingly devalues women. For example, the U.S. has gender inequality in the form of the gender pay gap and rape culture that circulates the media.  Also, women of color experience far more discrimination and gender violence than white women. An example of cultural differences in the U.S. is the East Coast and West Coast. Although the U.S. has an overall culture that values time, the West Coast has a reputation for being more relaxed and go with the flow.   The work ethic of West Coasters can frustrate business partners who live on the East Coast and vice versa. Although West Coasters may be more relaxed when it comes to time, it doesn’t lose any of its value to West Coasters. Time is still considered money to them. There are also cultural differences when it comes to the view of religion and health in the U.S.   Some people argue religious reasons for refusing to get their children vaccinated. This can be difficult for some schools that require vaccines because arguing against someone’s religious beliefs is incredibly difficult.
  1. Give three examples of cultural practices that can be leveraged to address community/market problems.  Cultural practices are key in understanding a society and how things and people function within it.    One major cultural practice that we can use to our advantage is the incredibly tight-knit communities that form in Sierra Leonean communities.  It seems that once you know one person you have access to an unlimited amount of people. This can be extremely beneficial when trying to organize PSA’s on radios in Makeni or looking for more Community Health Workers to train.  Having someone who understands and can help navigate social interactions is incredibly helpful during fieldwork for Ukweli and when we aren’t able to be there. We could also look into leveraging the strong religious atmosphere by getting the support of community religious leaders to help spread awareness of the Ukweli test strips or even just preeclampsia and UTIs.   This could be incredibly helpful for pushing the importance of maintaining your health while also respecting religious boundaries. Since maternal and infant death rates are so high, there are already women’s and gender equality groups in Sierra Leone. We could potentially partner up with them in order to spread awareness of the affordable Ukweli test strip or the illnesses, preeclampsia and UTIs, we are trying to target.

Blog Post #1

Why did you enroll in this course (motivation, prior interests)? 

In today’s world, tragic news stories seem to be flooding the internet and at times, it can be hard not to feel helpless.   You want to help but with a world full of problems, where does one begin? This class gives Lehigh students the ability to create long term change by fixing the systems that are supposed to be helping people.  It is a way of doing service that will provide long term relief instead of short term fixes. I enrolled in this course because it provides the opportunity to develop new skills and impact others in a non-traditional classroom setting.  I have also spent a lot of time learning about different issues regarding gender within my field of Sociology so I’m incredibly excited to get the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned to real-world issues. 

How do you envision this course making you a better student? 

I believe this course will make me a better student by providing me the opportunity to work with people from other disciplines.   Once you declare your major, you typically have the same handful of students in all your classes. You start to see the same faces over and over, which isn’t a bad thing but it can feel limiting at times.  This course will give me the skills to work with people who may tackle problem-solving differently than how I solve problems. Everyone has different approaches and being able to see from someone else’s point of view is incredibly important.  In the working world, we are going to have to work on teams with people we might not see eye to eye with so having this experience in college is incredibly beneficial.  I also believe this course will offer me a new perspective on my own life.  I have been lucky enough to live a privileged life and being able to remove myself from that will help me think critically about the life I’ve lived and plan to live.  

The World Health Organization estimates that over one billion people who need eyeglasses do not have access to them. The vast majority of these people live in developing countries like Kenya where there is barely one optometrist per one million people. Given the high poverty levels, access to eyeglasses is almost nonexistent. Lack of proper eyeglasses severely impacts people and their livelihoods by decreasing their productivity at work, limiting or eliminating new opportunities, affecting their quality of life, deteriorating their general health and possibly leading to (preventable) blindness. What solution do you propose to address this problem?

There isn’t always a quick and easy solution to problems in the world.  In this instance, I would first look at the lack of optometrists in developing countries.  A lack of eye doctors means a lack of knowledge or understanding of eye diseases and preventable blindness.  Education for the public is key in bringing an issue to the forefront. If people don’t know the symptoms, how are they suppose to know that there is even a problem, to begin with?  Training and teaching Community Health Workers and clinics about the risks and symptoms of eye diseases would be incredibly beneficial in spreading awareness of these issues. Implementing vision tests at clinics would help people catch their vision issues before they got severe while also starting a dialogue about these health concerns.  Just being able to identify vision problems in communities with no optometrists on a more regular basis would benefit so many lives. Creating cost-effective glasses would also be another step to take. Since most people in developing countries tend to have lower-incomes, creating a pair of glasses that are affordable and durable is incredibly important to minimize this issue. Using 3D printers could help with the efficiency of building the product while also making sure they are durable.  Since there is limited access to optometrists and disposable income, making sure the glasses won’t break or need to be replaced is incredibly important. There are rarely quick fixes to long term problems so creating smaller steps to reach a bigger goal is key in solving sometimes seemingly impossible issues.