BYU Humanatarian Senior Project & ZSF Solar Powered Cell Range Extender Project

ZSF teamed up with Brigham Young University to create solar powered antennas that would improve cell phone reception in rural areas and provide electricity to charge phones and lanterns.

BYU Student Andrew Bradford points his go pro at me and asks on our last day in Kasama, Zambia, “What’s your last words for the trip?”  I’m short with him and simply say “It’s not over”.  With 16 Days in country a few of the things we did included 5 school’s now with solar & rechargeable lanterns, 3 cell phone amplifiers, accounting audit, visits to sponsored construction projects, Orphanage planning, meeting teachers, and delivering 21 needed bikes!  Words can’t describe the success, lasting, positive life changing sustainable impacts Zambia’s Scholarship Fund is making, and the humble infinite gratitude offered by hundreds we met who have been touched through the domino effect of education.

From the unique breed of Electrical Engineers, I’ve always enjoyed overcoming challenging problems, but standing on top of a 2 room rickety leaky structure called a school in Chikulu while peaking a cellphone amplifier antenna, all challenges were brought into a unique perspective for me.  As dark set in and I peered through the bugs swarming my headlamp below to the well over a hundred kids that gathered, young girls with babies strapped to their hips, malnourished toddlers with bulging tummies, and loving fathers and mothers who all were thirstier for the power of education that clean water.  That afternoon, after 3 times boys and men pushed together the well worn Land-Rover from the swamps that surrounded this half a year island village, we walked to the village with women insisting on carrying our heavy gear, batteries, solar panel, suitcases of lanterns, all on their heads.  I had come with 2 other engineers to install a BYU Senior Project developed system of cell phone amplifiers and solar charged lights to improve educational opportunities for them, and yet after attending numerous educational institutions in my life, I felt I was being educated beyond the capability of all those years in that moment.

After returning to the states my mind has often been caught away, 3 pages into reading my kids book I find myself only pondering on the kids that may never be read such a nice kids book.  Driving down the road I’m aghast there’s road crews, pavement, multiple lanes.  I tell co-workers the trip was “good”.  I was informed via another teacher through a Whatsapp txt “we have lost, madam… of Mankalala Primary school… Condolences to the family..”  Sera Chansa, single mother and teacher, who was well, happy, and smiling at our teachers meeting 2 weeks prior complained of a headache in her village 82 km from town, and hours later before reaching the hospital she passed.  These teachers and students are heros.  The sacrifices they make in efforts for the quest to help their own country escape poverty is unmeasurable.  I am grateful for the small opportunities and gifts I have to learn, share my talents, and work together with amazing people from all over the world in innovative ways to battle true challenges.  My reflection on the trip remains the same – “It’s not over”.