Monday, 2 June 2014

New: Our products!!

The course work for this spring has been submitted: The final report and products have been sent. But this does not mean we will stop working now. No, because we want YOU to use our products, it is exactly the right time now, to look into them in our products page: Visit New: Our products!! now and get an impression and start trying it yourself!

We had a lot of fun during this spring, learned a lot and were very happy about our team, the team work and the support we got from all different sites! Thank you everybody, who made this project going one or more steps forward!

Now we want to translate our final products to Portuguese, so that locals of our target group in Chamanculo, Mozambique, can start using them!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Final presentation comes close

Last week we had a meeting with Taksvärkki to present the overall project and get feedback on our end products. Our final products will be translated to portuguese during the summer and will be then delivered to ASSCODECHA during the fall 2014 when a new volunteer from Taksvärkki will travel to Maputo. The products have already been sent to ASSCODECHA via email for feedack. Waiting for answers...

Our final products are :
- an ABC guide to community based problem solving which includes different activities with different level of difficulties to encourage and create positive problem-solving atmosphere in the community
- a Hackathon map that would be visually attractive and display a step-by-step approach to organize a community hackathon.

During the meeting with Taksvärkki, we were advised to emphasize more the complicated activities in the ABC-guide as well as giving details examples linked to sanitation.

The previous week-end was quite intensive work time in order to prepare the report draft and product drafts for Monday. There is still work to do before the final presentation and final delivery of the report and product drafts. More illustrations need to be thought through and drawn before the map and guide can be ready. We met with our mentor yesterday Wednesday for our traditional breakfast at Calori and already got feedback for the report draft.

Tomorrow evening, we will start preparing for the presentation and continue correcting the report as well as updating the products. For Monday, we would like to include the audience in the presentation and utilize one of the activities from the ABC-guide.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Time for feedback, planning & work

Yesterday we met with the mentors of the course for a project clinic. We discussed how far we had come, what our focus is now and how to proceed to make our final product, report and presentation. What the outcome should be is not very strictly regulated by the course; there are only some guidelines the headings that have to be included in the final report. In our specific case we got the recommendation to include the background information and research that we did on water and sanitation even though we in the end product chose to have a wider scope than that. Another thing said during the meeting was that we should try explaining why we chose some methods for participatory processes and why we left others out. 

For the final presentation the mentors encouraged us to be creative and try to have interaction with the other students of the course. One thought was that we could test one of the methods for problem solving on the students of the course during the final presentation in order to make presentation attractive, interactive and interesting. For the final presentation the university has invited guests invited from NGOs, the Finnish foreign ministry and we were also welcome to invite more people that might have an interest in these topics.

We felt like we got good feedback on the project clinic and we also got compliments for being a dynamic group. It was nice to hear and to feel that we are on the right track!


Today we had a breakfast meeting where we figured out what content we want in our final report. We organized who should write what and where, and what sections we should write together. We renamed some of the headings so it follows a more scientific format that we found would be easier to understand. Until next week we will make drafts for the final report and the final products. The deadline that we decided on is 24.04.2014 and in before that there are Easter holiday. In order to enjoy some holidays as well we will try to use our time efficiently and now continue working!

Sunday, 6 April 2014


This time we had a longer brainstorming meeting to get our further directions and actions concerning our final product. This final product will be a guide to "train the trainers", e.g. ASSCODECHA activists (but in general the goal is to design the guide for a broader target group, i.e. everybody, who is able to read and motivated to organize and solve problems) to create an atmosphere, in which problem solving becomes motivating and fun.

We refined our project plan and schedule and about our guide we decided on following goals:
  • delivery to ASSCODECHA, Taksvärkki and Aalto
  • format will be a printed ABC step-by-step guide from easy-to-organize (A) to more difficult to realize (C) solutions as well as one booklet, which describes the C-solution (e.g. hackathon) more extensively; we will publish it in the internet via website and maybe a video
  • the final language of the product will be English and Portuguese
The ABC solutions seemed to be a good idea to get people motivated in the first stage. If organizing a hackathon sounded like a too difficult task for somebody, he/she could start with organizing a smaller event, e.g. workshop about a certain topic. If this approach works, then the level of difficulty could raise and the person tries a B approach, until finally the C step is reached. About the actual content of the A, B and C steps we will discuss in our following meetings.

Furthermore, to work more effectively on the different tasks, we assigned project managers to every to-do on our list. Now it is all about summarizing our earlier research and pick the important parts that shall end up in our guide!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Time to figure it out.

Today we met again to go over the feedback we got yesterday at the mid-review and to decide how to proceed.

The core of the feedback was that we need to find our focus (which we already knew). We have to be ready with our objectives and a vision of our end product by the project clinic in two weeks.

We had a long discussion about our end product. Currently our vision is to produce something about
different participatory methods focusing on building the problem-solving atmosphere (such as hackathons) rather than implementing solutions. This something would be a tool primarily aimed at ASSCODECHA's activists, as they call them, to support them when they plan their projects.

The final format is not yet clear, but we all agree that the format plays an important role. Possibly we'll make a package of a report, a booklet, videos, and a website or a wiki.

We'll meet on Friday at 4pm at Design Factory to workshop and figure everything out. 

What a journey!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Mid-review and feedback

Today we had the mid-review of the project using Pecha Kucha style, meaning 20 slides, 20 secondes each. We met in the early morning at Calori in order to practise the presentation and prepare the questions and comments for the Tanzania Waste Keko Mwanga group. 

It was a very good exercise to actually summarize our project in 6 minutes 40 secondes! Twenty secondes run very fast so you need to get to the point, no time for long explanations! As an introduction to our presentation, we had a teaser video of the trip giving highlights of our experience in Chamanculo. The video can be found below.

We got a lot of feedback from the different groups, teachers and professor. We were asked if we wish to continue the project later on. I would think that most of us would like to follow and continue this project, especially if we are able to keep close collaboration with ASSCODECHA in the future! 

Several questions were related to our objectives and deliveries that still seem unclear, also something that could be noticed in our blog. We are using the blog as a project diary and writing our reflections there. Until now, it has been very confusing for us and actually quite difficult to clearly write these objectives down. What should the "final product" be?

During the fieldtrip and once back to Finland looking at different litterature, we collected many pieces from the puzzle yet to be complete. It seems that we are continuously moving back and forth. 

What also makes it difficult for us is the time-frame of the course. Changes that we would see happening in Chamanculo, will not happen in the next few months. Everybody will agree on the fact that changing people's mindset is challenging and is a long-term process. 

As we mentioned during our presentation, we would like to focus on empowerment of people rather than proposing ready-made/technical solutions. The guidebook would give tools to the locals for them to come up with ideas and find the potentials in these ones. I think people get always enthusiastic in something they see happening and beneficial for them. The Hackathon was a good beginning of this change of mindset and the overwhole feedback we got from the people when we were there was positive. We must follow this path!

Next steps

  • Tomorrow 01.04.2014 we are meeting again at Calori at 8am to review today's session with our mentor 
  • We need to cleary define our objectives and answer the questions What? Why? How? as it was mentioned today during our presentation. Hopefully the puzzle will be complete before the next project clinic!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Mid-review comes close

In our now already traditional breakfast meeting at Calori we have been discussing the empowerment approach a bit more detailed. We have been reading scientific articles and project documents about trials of empowerment in different communities. The overall conclusion was that these approaches seem to have fancy names, but the basic idea of empowerment is quite similar throughout the researched areas. Mariko found that some of these approaches have been tested even in Maputo already, which shows to us that our idea can actually be realized and will have a certain impact. This, of course, rises our motivation and enthusiasm about the whole project!

Caroline tried to visualize the impact our project could have in the Chamanculo community in a nice chart considering different internal and external factors. This gives a clearer picture and will help us defining our objectives. Furthermore, we learned that participatory processes should always be executed under accompaniment of professionals, so that the whole framework would stay intact and does not get out of control. However, the goal is to raise ideas from inside the community, not to present externally created ready-made solutions.

The hackathon analysis and checklist are in process, too. We hope that ASSCODECHA will be interested in a cooperation concerning the realization of maybe regular events like hackathons. They are the only realistic partner we see in that case and based on their decision we can widen this approach and maybe start looking for sponsors. We also started to think about the integration of children and/or woman in particular into the participatory process, as, e.g., children are fast learners and are able to spread information consistently throughout many generations. Women, on the other hand, are in our experience rarely seen in positions that require responsibility and leading qualities, which can only be changed, if they are especially involved into the whole thinking process from the beginning.

After gathering this amount of information into all these different directions we will now prepare the mid-review presentation and at the same time we will also sharpen our project focus still - old story, but still worth to mention...

We will meet on Thursday, 27.03. at 18.00 in the Main Building Learning Hub. Until then everybody prepares 4 slides and reviews the presentation as a whole, so we can discuss, develop and design our delivery of the project.