IEFT Partners with the EWB-Portland to Expand Sustainable Energy Efforts for School in Tanzania

Northern Tanzania, August 9, 2010 – Engineers Without Borders Portland Professionals Chapter (EWB) traveled to Lashaine Village, Tanzania in June to oversee the expansion of a rainwater harvesting system and the installation of an expanded solar energy system at Orkeeswa Secondary School, built and operated by the Indigenous Education Foundation of Tanzania (IEFT). Addition of a second water tank and expansion of the energy system ensures there will be enough resources to accommodate the growing student population.

“It was great to see how all of our efforts over the past year have come to fruition,” said Brad Ostapkowicz, EWB travel team member. “You gain a lot of perspective when you are in direct contact with the students who the EWB’s projects are helping. It also gives us incentive to keep working through the next coming year; knowing the students will be progressing in their studies, in part, due to the sustainable sources of water and electricity we helped to provide.”

The 60,000 liter rainwater harvesting system, installed by EWB last year, was increased with the addition of another 60,000 liter ferrocement tank. The tanks will soon be supplemented with a bio sand filter to treat collected rain water, and a pipeline to deliver water directly to the school’s kitchen. EWB partnered with Chloride Exide, Ltd. to expand the 160-Watt solar power system Chloride Exide donated the year before. The school now has a new 1,080-watt solar energy system to power their classrooms, staff offices, and their newly constructed science lab. There is now enough energy available to power the entire school, as well as the future library and computer lab. Orkeeswa students are also anxiously awaiting the arrival of new energy efficient computers that they will be able to use on a daily basis.

“The most amazing part of the trip was driving around the villages, meeting the students’ families and seeing their home life,” said Ada Banasik, programs coordinator for IEFT and EWB travel team member. “As engineers, we of course enjoy seeing our designs implemented, but the hospitality and warm smiles of the Orkeeswa students, their families and literally thousands of village children that seem to spill out of the bush wherever we show up is unforgettable and makes the countless hours of design work, report writing and fundraising that made this project possible so rewarding. Thank you Lashaine!”

IEFT is dedicated to providing affordable secondary education to underprivileged indigenous children in rural Tanzania. They have made it a priority to create a reliable and sustainable infrastructure at Orkeeswa School; understanding that students’ ability to attend school depends on the availability of a reliable and safe source of potable water and a renewable source of energy. Rainwater is the only source of water available to the Lashaine Village, prior to the installation of the new tanks the school was collecting rainwater in small plastic tanks positioned under the roof downspouts. The volume of the plastic tanks, however, was insufficient to last through the entire dry season and the school was forced to truck in water from neighboring areas, diverting funds away from the school’s budget.

IEFT opened Orkeeswa Scondary School in April of 2008. The first 40 students that were enrolled in English-immersion classes have nearly completed their Form II (sophomore) courses and an addition of 40 more students each year has begun English-immersion classes. IEFT plans on expanding school facilities and accepting additional classes until they have reached the full build-out in 2013.

For additional information about IEFT or the EWB-IEFT Partnership, please visit the IEFT Web site at, or the EWB Web site at If you are interested in joining the team, sharing similar design/construction experiences or assisting with obtaining the funds necessary to complete this project, please send an e-mail to

About the Indigenous Education Foundation of Tanzania (IEFT)
The Indigenous Education Foundation of Tanzania (IEFT) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit community-collaborative organization that provides quality, affordable secondary education to underserved indigenous children in rural Tanzania. IEFT empowers children to positively transform their lives, improve their communities and break the cycle of extreme poverty, while working to preserve their culture and traditions. Through the development of Orkeeswa Secondary School in Lashaine Village, IEFT provides secondary education to children who have no hope of continuing their education past primary school. The opportunity to receive further education is the key to escaping extreme poverty for students and their families.

About the Portland Chapter of Engineers Without Borders-USA (EWB-USA)
The Portland Chapter of Engineers Without Borders-USA (EWB-USA) is a group of professionals committed to volunteering in support of the EWB-USA mission and vision. EWB-USA partners with developing communities to improve their quality of life through the implementation of environmentally sustainable, equitable, and economical engineering projects while developing internationally responsible engineers and engineering students. We welcome all professionals, of any variety, to volunteer on EWB-USA sponsored projects.