Zach Day CINQ 396 Blog 2/15

1: Give three examples of how you can use nature as a model/mentor/measure for your own designs (and life).

One of the main messages that I took away from the video on the termite nests is that you are still able to create something strong and durable while also making it very simplistic. In the video, they showed how the termites were capable of creating these huge structures that were very tough and strong, but were hollow on the inside and required very little materials. I think it just proves the point that you do not have to follow the idea that adding more makes something better, which is a mindset I feel many people believe in.

Another lesson I feel like myself and other people could learn from nature came from the Biomimicry Ted Talk when Janine Benyu mentioned that organisms have figured out a way to do the things they do while taking care of the environment. Although I feel like many companies and individuals are moving in the right direction in terms of preserving the environment, I feel like further observing how ecosystems and nature keeps their environment clean could benefit humans and allow them to create new ways to be eco friendly.

I felt like the termite video could also teach a lesson about being resourceful, as it highlighted how the insects made use out of basically everything around them, and were able to use every resource as much as they possibly could. People in general tend to be very wasteful, both in daily life and in business and production, so I feel like analyzing animals and how they operate with very little waste could teach humans to do the same.


2: Pick one of Life’s Principles. Explain how you might apply it to your work and life (Could be unrelated to GSIF Projects).

When reading the paper on Life’s Principles, the idea of “Optimizing rather than Maximizing” stood out to me and seemed like an important concept for many facets of life. Although the idea of being multifunctional appeared as the most important aspect of this principle in my mind, I see the idea of optimizing rather than maximizing as a whole being a good principle that can help make life, work, and my teams GSIF project more efficient and more effective.

For professional and school purposes, the idea of being multifunctional and fitting to form of the function can be very efficient. In creating single systems that are able to serve different purposes cuts out the need for multiple processes that would create more costs, more time wasted, etc. The idea of fitting to form also can create more efficient work. With the example in the paper of Mashavu and their stethoscopes, it is demonstrated that one does not necessarily have to spend a lot of time and resources searching for marginally better materials, but can use what is readily and easily available to them and can make just as good of a product if they put some creativity and deeper thinking to it.

I have seen this principle already begin to be applied to my teams test strips project. With the talk of the marketing for the strips collaborating with the communications of the strip through radio shows and other forms of media, I see the idea of creating multifunctional strategies coming into play.


3: How do you envision integrating the cradle to cradle design concept into your project (and life)? Give one compelling example.

I think that the idea of cradle to cradle could be integrated into our project by focusing on a way for our products and process of distribution to be either waste or pollution free, or for those aspects of the project to create as little waste as possible. If the test strips and its packaging had the ability to be broken down and had the ability to re-enter the environment as opposed to being disposed and remaining as waste, they would be a good example of the cradle to cradle focused product. I am not sure how feasible that would be, as creating packaging and products that are able to decompose like that would be more expensive, but I think that would be the most easily applicable example of how to integrate the idea of cradle to cradle into our product.


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

One concept that I had discussed with a friend was the idea of just how much technology has changed human interaction, and it kind of opened my eyes to how trust probably has changed. There must have been a lot more trust prior to electronic communication, as people would just have to rely on someone and trust they would show up somewhere to pick them up, etc without communication, whereas we check in constantly to make sure people are doing what they have to do.

The concept of taking an obstacle and twisting it to make it an advantage is something I had also discussed with a friend. They told me about a book they read where a boxer was falsely found guilty of murder and given life in jail, but instead of giving up after being dealt a horrible situation, they used the time to gain knowledge on the law and the judicial system, and ended up using that to get himself freed. It just made me more aware to the fact that no matter how bad the situation you find yourself in, you could find a positive within it.

Another important concept that I hadn’t really thought too much of before was the idea of creating versus reacting. Many people, including myself, tend to just react to what happens in life. I was told that although this can get you by just fine, excelling in life requires people to create their own situation and take action. That made me realize just how much I went with the flow rather than creating opportunities for myself, and made me realize that I needed to be a creator if I wanted to become very successful.


Zach Day CINQ 396 Blog 2/10/19

1: Describe the 5 major stakeholders for your project and their motivations.

One of the largest stakeholders the Ukweli Test Strips project has is World Hope International. As a partner to Lehigh University and the Test Strip Project, WHI works with us to help train healthcare workers in terms of administering the product. In addition to the training of health workers in the communities, they also employ the people who transport the strips from Freetown to Makeni, and also have the jobs of distributing the strips from the WHI office in Makeni to the Peripheral Health Units.

Another stakeholder present in Sierra Leone for the Ukweli Test Strip project is the Community Health Workers, otherwise known as the CHWs. The CHWs are responsible for screening pregnant women who show signs of having a UTI, and also are in charge of referring women who test positive through our test strips to PHUs. In addition, the CHWs receive some income through selling the test strips. So while their motivation may be monetary related, motivation could also come from the fact they are the most active members in getting initial help for at risk pregnant women.

The women who are going to be tested with the strips also fall under the category of stockholders for this project. Obviously, as a pregnant mother, especially as a pregnant mother in the nation with the highest maternal mortality, taking all the steps necessary in order to be as healthy as possible for birth is critical. With our test strips providing an effective, and also a cheap or free option to identify a major factor in the high maternal mortality rate of the country, this product provides a major help to pregnant women in focusing on their health and wellbeing. For this reason, the pregnant women in and around Makeni should have a high motivation to utilize our product.

The Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) also poses as a stakeholder for our project, as they oversee the national line of health operations that ultimately ends at Community Health Workers. One of the main focuses of the Ministry of Health is focused towards the reduction of the high maternal mortality rate in the nation, so they would have a very obvious motivation in being a stakeholder for the test strips. Any product like ours, which poses a very real possibility of helping reduce the maternal mortality rate should draw interest from this stakeholder.

The workers in charge of distributing the test strips from the ports of Freetown to the communities receiving the product can also be considered stakeholders for the project. Although they do not have no part with the actual screening of the pregnant women who may have UTIs, they are responsible for the strips actually reaching the communities and villages where the screening will be done, and their salary is reliant upon delivering this product. Their motivations come in the form of a paycheck, as well as the desire to help those in need.


2: Describe 3 ways in which you will validate your project and enhance your credibility over the course of the semester.

One way the Ukweli Test Strip team will continue to increase credibility over the course of the semester could be to update and/or improve on the training of the people administering the test strips. If the professionals on the ground in Sierra Leone are not properly educated on how the product works or what exactly the product should be used towards, the test strips could be used improperly or not used when needed. This would then most likely cause the public perception of the product to fall, leading to no one wanting to use it and the project failing. Inversely, if the workers in Sierra Leone were trained as well as they could be, then they would know when to use it and the public would see them as a credible tool to use for maternal health.

A marketing license, which is what the group has been trying to obtain, would also help validate the test strips in the eyes of the communities receiving them. When people see a product being promoted, they often times consider that item as a good option. Therefore, If the test strips were given the ability to be more widely marketed to communities and it’s information be more widely distributed, more people in Sierra Leone would see it as a more viable product.

Working on and planning ways to implement the test strips in more locations outside of Makeni would also help enhance the credibility of the product. Increasing the amount of people in various areas who are exposed to the test strips would demonstrate to more people the effectiveness of our product, and therefore will increase the credibility and effectiveness of the test strip in identifying UTIs in pregnant women.


Zach Day CINQ 396 Blog 2/8/19

1: Give three compelling examples of how cultural issues affect your project

One cultural difference my team talked about was the concept of time for the people of Sierra Leone. While Americans follow schedules closely, Sierra Leoneans are much less concerned about showing up on time. This could affect our project in the sense that it could make it difficult to schedule meetings with locals and plan out the day in general.

Another issue in Sierra Leone is the way the different genders interact with each other. As mentioned by some of my group members that had gone to Sierra Leone this past summer, many women over there do not feel comfortable going to men regarding the health issues we are focusing on. With many workers in these villages being men, women may not disclose potential UTI threats to them, meaning the women that would benefit from our product would not be given them.

The popularity of traditional medicine in Sierra Leone could also impact our project. Since many people still believe in herbal, spiritual, and other forms of traditional medicine, some women could look towards those forms of treatment rather than the more Western and more modern approach to health care that we are implementing.


2: Have you experienced or observed any of these social situations at home? Describe at least 3 such situations.

Living with my sister and my mom, I have seen and heard their opinion on having to see male doctors. I have heard my sister mention how she does not feel very comfortable discussing some aspects of her health, and how she feels like a female doctor or nurse could understand my sisters health better.

I have also experienced how people not sticking to meeting times can be detrimental. Over winter break I had made plans with some friends to get food, and made other plans with other friends to hang out right after. However, the friends I were getting food with ended up not being ready in time for the original meeting time and I ended up having to cancel on my other friends. Although this situation is not as important as the negotiations and meetings we will be doing in Sierra Leone, I have seen the negative effects of people not following schedules.

Although I have not seen too much of this back home, my mom has told me of a few of her friends who have gone to see herbal medical specialist instead of actual doctors. Although my moms friends say that medicine has been helpful, my mom highly doubts that.

3: Give 3 examples of cultural practices that can be leveraged to address community/market problems

With the idea of hierarchy and social statuses being big in Sierra Leone, these notions could be used to help a market like the one we are working in with our project. If Sierra Leoneans who are looked up to and hold high places on these social hierarchies promote what we are working on, I feel like more citizens would buy into the market.

Markets could also leverage the fact that Sierra Leone places a large emphasis on consensus. If a market is able to get a group of people to originally accept a product, like in our case our test strips to benefit maternal health, then a larger portion of the public could buy into the idea of using it.

Communities could also make use of the fact that Sierra Leone society has a culture of being high collectivist. With that knowledge, markets could probably get more people to individually gain trust in a product if they focus it towards groups of similar people to start.


4: In regards to your ventures, how does the African context present different challenges than the American context? Give at least 3 examples.

Poor infrastructure is one aspect that provides a larger challenge in Sierra Leone than the United States. While almost all Americans can easily get from place to place as they please, many Sierra Leoneans have major troubles traveling, which definitely impacts the number of people who seek medical help when they need it.

The lack of doctors is another issue more prevalent in Sierra Leone than America, and one that impacts our project. With only 0.05 doctors per 1,000 people in Sierra Leone, the medical help that people are able to receive is very limited, or of less quality than that of the United States, so women who could benefit from our product may not receive them.

In addition, the fact that Sierra Leone is a majority Muslim nation could make an impact on our project. I do not know if this would definitely impact how Sierra Leoneans would view this product focused on reproductive and women’s health since I have not been to the country, but I could see this mindset hindering our project to some extent.

5: In regard to your ventures, how does the African context offer different resources than the American context. Give at least 3 examples.

Having UNICEF working with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation provides a resource within the nation that the United States does not have. This allows the Sierra Leone government to receive extra funding that can go to different projects, like further promoting maternal health.

Free health care for pregnant women, mothers of young children, and people of protected populations is also a great resource for Sierra Leoneans that is not available for Americans. This is beneficial for our project, as it does not prohibit women from getting medical help on the basis of costs.

The resources of having community elected health workers is another resource available for the Sierra Leoneans. Having people working in the health sector within villages where they are respected and trusted by the locals could cause an increase in the amount of people who go receive medical help.


CINQ 396 Blog #1

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

Since middle school I have partaken in various activities that helped my communities back home and at school, including serving food at soup kitchens and homeless shelters and tutoring younger children in the local school systems. Although I felt good about partaking in these activities, and knew that these actions did make a positive impact in the communities I was working in, I always felt like I could be doing more. During the work I was doing, I realized that you can give a person in need a few meals at a soup kitchen to keep them fed, but once those meals have been eaten the same problem of poverty, homelessness, and other struggles still remain for that person and other people in their situation. Due to this realization, I have wanted to personally help take on big issues on a much larger scale than just the communities I live in.

When I heard about this project and class, I realized that this would be a perfect opportunity to fulfill that desire. The idea of helping out multiple communities throughout a whole country rather than just focusing on one community like I have done in the past made me very interested and passionate about this project, and doing work that can save lives and create impacts for many years down the road is another reason I have decided to take this course and work on the test strip project.


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

I think taking this course and working on the test strip project will improve my problem solving skills tremendously. As mentioned during the class on Tuesday and in my group meeting, there is a large number of components to the project as well as challenges that have the potential to arise, meaning me and my team will not have an immediate and simple solution we could automatically institute for many of them. This will force me to often have to think outside of the box and creatively make use of my current knowledge in order to overcome the problems that present themselves during both research and fieldwork. Although my experiences in this class and in Sierra Leone will be vastly different than the other courses I will take at Lehigh, the ability to take on difficult problems and effectively solve them through unconventional methods at times is a skill that most definitely comes in handy in any academic field or in any life setting you could find yourself in.

Working in this course and on this project will also improve my teamwork and team management skills. Obviously in a project of this scale, there is no way a single person could take charge in all aspects of what the team is trying to achieve. Projects like these demand that there is good cooperation and cohesion between the group and will force some people to take on leadership roles they may not have filled before. The same goes for many courses in college and outside of school in the working world. This course and project will help me to build upon team managing and team leading skills, and then allow me to take what I learned about teamwork and apply it to my other courses at Lehigh.

What solution do you propose to address the problem of people in developing countries not having access to eyeglasses?

One solution I can think of to approach this issue draws inspiration from a current course of action taken by the prescription glasses company Warby Parker. Warby Parker currently does online prescription glasses sales to people, and in addition to selling to people, they run a program called “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair”. In this program, whenever a customer purchases a pair of glasses from Warby Parker, the company takes another pair of prescription glasses and works with partners worldwide to get the glasses to an underprivileged person who needs them either for free or for a very small price. To date, the company has donated nearly 4 million glasses.

A solution that could be tried to solve this problem would be to create an organization or group that would work with prescription glasses companies and try to get them on board with the idea of implementing their own similar plan to distribute quality glasses to developing nations for free or extremely cheap after a pair is bought domestically. If an organization like this was able to get bigger name glasses companies that sell in higher volumes on board with the idea of donating a pair after selling a pair, the problem of sight for people in need could be diminished greatly. Warby Parker charges much less for glasses than their competitors, but with other glasses companies, the combination of the ability to produce glasses cheap and the same glasses being sold for a very high price in the United States means that some companies could buy into the idea of giving more than one pair of glasses away per purchase, since they are already turning such a high profit per unit.