Greetings from the Land of Thousand Hills!
Editor Note: Have you been dying to know what’s been happening at our Ngoma production site? You can learn first-hand from Tyson Huffman, MacGyver-in-Residence, in our mini blog series in three parts. Read Part 1 of 3 today and stay tuned for the rest of the series!
Greetings from the Land of a Thousand Hills or as Rwandans say, the Land of a Thousand Beautiful People!
So how did I get here? It’s because Sustainable Health Enterprises realized that lack of access to affordable pads while menstruating is a big problem for girls and women in developing countries. Women miss school and work for nearly 50 days a year. This causes them to fall behind. SHE decided that this was a major setback for women and decided to do something about it.
SHE came up with a plan to produce pads from banana fiber. Banana fiber is a waste product of agriculture and therefore affordable to buy. SHE enlisted the help of MIT and NC State who came up with a process to turn the banana fiber into a highly absorbent fluff using paper-making equipment. The most amazing thing is that this patent-pending process uses no chemicals. SHE proved they could make pads on a small-scale at both NCSU and Kigali Institute of Technology, but wanted to bring large-scale production so millions of girls and women in Rwanda can have access to its pads. So, it sent over equipment to Rwanda and were ready to set up shop. This was no small task. Now where could they find a guy that is bold enough to join and help SHE pull it off?
|Tyson, second from right, with Sylvere, second from left (in red)|
That would be me, Tyson. I seem to attract unique situations and people. I’ve had a wild ride so far. I am a former Marine, restaurant manager, and apple farmer. I’ve done a little construction, was a security guard, and worked as process engineer at a large paper mill. I am currently a student at NC State in their Paper Science & Engineering and Chemical Engineering programs.
I would be remiss if I did not also give a shout out to my right hand man, Sylvere, SHE’s Business Development Officer. He has been my interpreter, guide, and friend since I first arrived in Kigali. For the most part, we have been together every waking hour. He taught me how to navigate the landscape of Rwanda, and I couldn’t have done it without him. He is one of the most interesting and capable people I have ever met. I have no doubt that we will be lifelong friends.
Stay tuned tomorrow to learn more from Tyson about our production site!