Tag Archives: Tanzania

A Strong Team of Women

We are incredibly blessed by the amount of strong ass women in our lives. We are a force that is much greater than any one of us alone. This week has been a tough one and without my dream team I wouldn’t know how I could handle another day.

In Dar es Salaam, Adella did a Usability Study of the microscope at Kairuki Hospital and it worked beautifully. All is well in the design process, but to get these tools to mamas in village we need more funds for additional out of Dar testing.

On the downside, a tenant moved out of the Volunteer House and took much of the Trust’s property with her. We had to spend two days scrambling to replace even the basics on our kitchen. Our new guests have been most kind given the unexpected circumstances. Our trustee, wise woman Sally has been a stronghold of strength and guidance on how cope with the situation in the best possible way.

Here in Mombasa, its been one thing after another. Sabenza has powered through taking care of the house and we are starting sprouting seeds for a garden. A single mother of 6, Sabenza cooks over firewood so we had her son, and a friend gather all the wood from the yard today.

The boys also helped to rebuild and sort out all the trash into a new recycling system. Now that all plastic bags have been outlawed including trash bags we have had to get creative. Here there are no garbage trucks so its 100% self process.

All recyclable plastics become seed trays, planters, pots, and rooting cups. Sabenza and I take cuttings and keep scraps of food to replant. Strong women think about food security.

Opportunity knocks, but trouble just walks in and sits down. That’s precisely what happened Tuesday night when a little kitten with a bad anal prolapse walked into the house. I couldn’t stand to see it die, but couldn’t afford in our budget to help it. Another strong woman named Revi stepped to the plate to help and her furry adorable namesake is alive and well after its operation.

Our wonder women in the US have been working to sell houses, raise bushels of children, and still somehow have time to help with marketing and fundraising.

One of the issues of fundraising is that big organizations give little ones like ours a bad name. I’m thankful for the women who keep me and our work afloat and rowing.

Speaking of wow women, I am so thrilled I was able to help my mother in law get a visit visa to the US to see my brother in law. She has carried so much for so long she deserves a vacation. I mean don’t we all?

As for my work I’ve been learning how to do clinical trials, and preparing a team, to be lead by an unstoppable Canadian woman, so can submit a grant to “gold standard” our tools and make way for FDA standard approvals.

Next week I’m excited that I’ll be able to help teach 3D printing here in Mombasa with a Maker Queen. No matter how topsy turvey the world may be, us strong women stand together. Who knows maybe one a group of softly gray haired women could take over the world. For now, one day at a time.

To learn more about Voices of Africa Foundation or make a donation, visit our website www.voicesofafrica.org.

It cost me an arm and a leg…

3D printing limbs in East Africa

I have said this countless times giving it only passing thought. This saying is often passed off under your breath, or when describing a shopping experience gone wrong, usually when you buy something that was too expensive. However what would be too expensive for you to have to give up an actual arm or a leg? What would you be willing to give to get that limb in some way replaced?


The leading causes of limb loss are severe injuries as caused in accidents and wars, cancerous tumors, birth defects, serious infection, and complications from diabetes. People give their physical arms and legs for these reasons so they can continue to carry on with their lives. In developed countries, such as the United States, there is access to prosthetic limbs. These often expensive medical devices allow the amputee to have some sense of normalcy and to continue with a functional life.

What do you think happens in developing countries? Places where war and other tragedies abound? The people who lose their limbs often are left without access to employment, and thus suffer throughout the remainder of their lives. There is a key role than 3D printing and new software development can play in serving those who have faced such a price for the chance to live.

Amputee in Sierra Leone http://www.irinnews.org/photo/201110241136160688/edward-conteh-president-amputee-and-war-wounded-association-founded-2000
Using recycled American prosthesis, Muhimbili National Hospital in Tanzania sells arms for around $500 each. The devices are handmade and require multiple fittings and adjustments. Although there is high demand for legs, those prosthesis are seldom donated and are largely unavailable. At present, using eNable and LimbForge designs we are able to print a variety of plastic hand and arm prosthesis. The plastics we are working with currently are not strong enough for legs, so we are watching and waiting for the technology for metal printing to reduce in price, as of now it is out of our reach. Fund raising is underway for new equipment and consumables to continue this project in Dar es Salaam, and perfect the model for export to other cities and countries.

With the help of a team of PhD students at Clemson University, we are also tackling the tough issue of precise measurements and scaling of the 3D models to the specific patient digitally using an iPhone. This component is especially important when dealing with children who grow and who will need new devices and fittings at various times. Wearing a prosthesis that does not fit well can be painful and uncomfortable, and cause additional damage to the amputation site. It is essential to ensure that the poor are not offered a lower quality product simply due to their economic disempowerment. Quite to the contrary, it is our purpose to design the best technology has to offer so that it can serve those who need it most.

Thanks to our partnership with the Handicapped General Partnership in Tanzania, and the Kigamboni Dar es Salaam local government, we have a listed of affected people who are waiting for our help. The government including the Commission of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Health are supportive and have offered technical assistance. Due to recent budget cuts in the health sector, neither are able to commit financial resources at this time. Necessity is the mother of all innovation, and it pushes us to achieve even in limiting circumstances.

We can foresee in the near future limbs replacement being available throughout the developing world with access to 3D printers, design files, and scanning technology. Using technology, we make it affordable and possible for everyone to live normally without their natural limbs. That will be priceless.

Ups and Downs of 3D Printing in Africa

Ups and Downs of 3D Printing in Africa

There are benefits and obstacles of using 3D printing in TANZANIA(AFRICA) as addressed in the following reasons;


Limited markets, with less product choice comparatively to the global north, particularly in more rural areas, drives the desire for customization. It is more difficult to source the part you may need or it may be necessary to adapt products to the use case. 3D printing enables mass customization.

Supply issues, importing products from abroad and/or transporting them through the country incurs large costs and can often take months. Comparative to the delivery ability of ‘amazon prime’ in Europe and USA, there is significant potential in being able to eliminate the supply chain.

Adaptation to the environment, the majority of products that are designed, are designed for the environment in which they are originally designed. 3D printing enables designs to be easily adapted for the local environment. An example is Beehives made in the US are designed for bees in the US. African bees are about half the size of those in US and hence the queen bee cups need to be half the size of those mass produced in the US

Bottom-up manufacturing, There is a large funding gap for low scale innovations. The majority of startups are unable to get capital investment to invest in larger scale manufacturing processes. 3D printing allows for very low scale manufacturing to start a business. Example PrinPo, a startup producing 3D printed visual teaching aids has been able to manufacture products instantly given access to 3D printers.

Culture of reuse and recycling, There is a culture for fixing, re-using and recycling old parts. This culture is lacking in the global north where consumers tend to throw away and purchase new. 3D printers are a great resource for fixing broken appliances. Example STICLab fixed a food blender that had broken of one of their friends with a simple 3D printed part.


Design skills lacking amongst the general population, The National Curriculum incorporates ‘Aesthetics’ which consists of fine arts, theatre art, physical education and music. These are all optional subjects for schools to teach. http://www.tie.go.tz/docs/CURRICULUM%20FOR%20SECONDARY%20EDUCATION.pdf

Additionally, schools don’t have the resources (computers/programs), teachers or facilities to teach design. At the University level CAD skills are taught amongst engineering students.

Slow to adopt new technology, Tanzanian households and industries have been slow to adopt new technologies in the past compared to their neighboring nations. http://www.thecitizen.co.tz/News/TZ-fails-to-gain-from-digital-wealth/-/1840340/3048062/-/jolwup/-/index.html. Only about 22% of companies with more than 5 employees used the internet in their operations in Tanzania compared to 73% in Kenya. http://www.thecitizen.co.tz/News/TZ-fails-to-gain-from-digital-wealth/-/1840340/3048062/-/jolwup/-/index.html, http://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/wdr2016

Importing filament is expensive, shipping and import costs are high in Tanzania. Filament is expensive globally which becomes more limiting if the purchasing power of the general population is comparatively low. Example, A roll of filament purchased in Tanzania costs 80,000 TSH ($36.53) per kg comparative to $20/kg in the Uk.

In conclusion of the advantages and disadvantages above I believe that if we change the systems by encouraging, motivating and incorporating the technology of 3D in Africa a lot more then we can make a big difference in terms of promoting design skills, more rapid adaptation to technology and cheaper prices of filament and printers.

Makers movement with 3D Printing

Making Makers!

An important current trend is the Makers Movement. When applied to healthcare, patients can hack their illnesses with simple modifications and brainstorming. Patients are making a difference by driving solutions in their own care, on an individual case-by-case basis.

A cornerstone of the Makers Movement is 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, one of the most disruptive technologies across every industry and economy in the world. Its applications in healthcare are tremendous and game-changing specifically when used in places of insufficient medical supply. Widespread access to and knowledge about 3D printing is going to take the patient makers movement to a whole new level.

The explosive growth of 3D printing means that you can personalize and individualize literally every single thing in your life to your exact specifications — color, design, size. This is a huge difference from making one-size-fits-all. Anything that goes on or in the body will be printed to fit you 100 percent. Just about anything that was previously made of plastic or metal can now easily be printed in 3D.

3D printing would be able to furnish hospital with on-demand supplies and equipment. In areas with unstable supply lines or in remote locations, 3D printing will mean the difference between being able to access some supplies, or having nothing at all. For example,In Tanzania, a makers workshop Sticlab has managed to 3D print a microscope that is cost effective and reliable to inidividuals of all calibers. The microscope could be used in rural places where access to daily medical deliveries is a huge issue. It’s difficult to get enough medical supplies to places like Mzaganza and 3D printing provided an immediate solution, with accurate results.

Widespread access to and knowledge about 3D printing is going to take the patient Maker Movement to a whole new level. It is expected to see rapid progress, now that patients suddenly have easy access to new tools to create solutions that can make a major impact, especially in daily routines.

Traditional medicine isn’t deeply personalized, but the Maker Movement is making it possible for patients to individualize their treatments, share their work and ideas in communities, collaborate together and innovate further.

Health and 3D printing hackathon has been organized to take place in Tanzania on 14th February 2017 at Buni Hub with one core purpose. TO drive more people and raise awareness on the use of 3D printing in saving lives.

3D printing in Africa, 3D printing at home.

3D printing in Africa, 3D printing at home.

Why idealize when we can materialize, having all at our finger tips. Imagining and creating beyond our expectation, not having to depend and wait for everything to be made for us. Making the dormant ideas become activated and switched to reality.

All great things started small, with a push of looking for ways to make Africa to be more innovative and creative. 3D printing can revolutionize and change the perception of our lives. 3D printing can push the limits of personalizing the needs at hand by creating resourceful tools and aids.

Might not make such a drastic change today but I believe there is a great future with 3D printing in Africa. 3D printing is offering various opportunities in medicine, education, agriculture, architecture and some much more. Taking the chance to work together in order to persuade the change of incorporating 3D printing in the system.

As we move into the future, 3D printing will start to become a common term in the technology industry. It is clearly a challenging problem, and it’s likely that it won’t succeed without all the significant contributions that have to be made during a period of time. I am looking forward for the future with this technology and playing my part to make a change. Let’s us all play our parts, lets us all work together because I know we will have more fun at it like that.