Arizona Girl Scout’s energy project brightens life in African village - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Arizona Girl Scout’s energy project brightens life in African village

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Posted: Monday, January 6, 2014 8:00 am

Arizona Ambassador Girl Scout Morgan Serventi made life a little better in Wamba, Kenya, a year ago. She brought the local people heat, light, pure water, and a way to clean up their environment. Her gift is sustainable, ecologically brilliant, and affordable for families who live on less than we can imagine. She calls her project, “The Power of Poo,” for which she earned the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award.

As Morgan shares her story, the joy she receives from being of service is obvious. In 2012, after 12 years in Girl Scouting, Morgan was working toward her Girl Scout Gold Award. When it came time to do her capstone project, Morgan wanted to interweave all her service experience and interests.

The opportunity came about when her church youth group was planning a trip to build an orphanage in the village of Wamba, Kenya. “For my Gold Award, I wanted to do something huge for the orphanage.”

Morgan raises steers, sheep and lambs. Playing into the serendipity is Morgan’s keen scientific mind. She decided to design and build a methane eco digester — a simple, brilliant device that converts animal feces into methane gas. The methane gas, which is colorless and odorless, can then power a camp stove, providing heat and light and the means to purify water and cook food.

In describing the community of Wamba, Morgan said that for every mother, there are five abandoned children. Wood, the only source of fuel, is scarce and when used, creates fumes that are harsh and toxic. The women and children have to go farther and farther in order to find wood, causing children to miss school and creating more danger for women. The primary water source is a creek used for washing clothes and dishes, as well as a cooling place where cattle wade.

Fortunately, the supplies Morgan needed for her bio digesters were simple and she had brought most of them with her. Her goal, however, was to work with the people so that they could replicate the bio digester with supplies in their village.

“They were so excited, so hungry for this,” she said. The hardware supplies, tubing, plastic water containers, and valves were indeed available. The fuel — animal “poo” — was, well, everywhere. When she started to collect feces, the local children quickly caught on and helped. Morgan and the people of Wamba built not one, but three bio digesters while she was there.

When asked what was most satisfying about her project, Morgan said it was the kindness and love of the people she met in Wamba. “They taught me how to treat people,” she says.

A year after Morgan’s return home to Arizona, thousands of miles away new light from the bio digesters she left behind shines brightly on the faces of her friends in Wamba, Kenya. Girl Scout Morgan Serventi made their world a better place.

Girl Scouts is one of 28 organizations that receive funding from Mesa United Way, which is sharing their “Faces of Need - and Hope” stories throughout the 2013-14 pledge campaign.

•To read more stories of need and hope and to find out how you can help, visit www.mesaunitedway.org. To learn more about Girl Scouting in Arizona, go to www.girlscoutsaz.org.

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