We had two days to set the curriculum and prepare the workshop, which consisted of a flurry of planning and building and testing and learning our way around the town. By the time the participants arrived, we had lots for them to do over the next three days. The workshop began by teaching participants various skills in bicycle repair and maintenance from spoking a wheel (taught by Bernard) to fixing a flat (taught by Daniel). The sessions were run in the local language of Acholi, so we worked alongside translators from Caritas.
After that, we looked at how power can be taken from a bicycle by looking at a few different technologies including a charcoal crusher and a peanut butter maker. Then, we asked the participants to brainstorm some different ideas for projects and then we set the teams. One team wanted to make a water cart to attach to the back of a bicycle, another team was working on a bicycle blender for making juice locally, another team was working on a cassava grater and the fourth team was working on a millet and sorghum thresher.
The participants had already learned about the design process before, so we were able to move straight into information gathering and idea generation. Over the next two days, we worked tirelessly to produce working prototypes, fueled by hearty Ugandan cuisine. We took a short break on the second day to look at different GCS technologies, which the participants really enjoyed. By the time that we were running the showcase at the end of the workshop, people were already planning businesses around the prototypes that they had designed and were figuring out how they could use their profits to build more bicycle machines.
There’s still some work to be done on the final designs. The blender was leaking a little bit and it was difficult to find dried sorghum for testing the thresher. Still, it was really amazing to see everything that people accomplished and to be a part of the whole process. It was also wonderful to work with such friendly and caring people.