By Olga Permanyer, Kopernik Fellow
When distributing new technology products amongst a community, it is very important to get the feedbacks from the users. This way you can measure with data and numbers to see the real impact these technologies are having. And this week that is what the NGO Roman Luan and I have been doing in Vila - Ataúro Island: obtaining the first impressions of the Solvatten water filter users. On Tuesday morning, we grabbed the list of the families who already bought the Solvatten and traced a route. We decided to start with those families living in the west side of Vila and from there we would go to the east. Since the village is pretty small we decided to walk from Roman Luan’s office.
Our first stop was at Catarina C. Soares house. She welcomed us with some fresh water that came from her new Solvatten! We really appreciated that because it was very hot (manas barak!! in Tetum, I learned it that day). We had the interview outside her house, sitting on the porch, surrounded by a bunch of kids since she has a big family: seven children. While her husband works in Dili, she takes care of the youngest ones, so the main fact that she was stressing in every question is that she now doesn’t have to worry about her children drinking dirty water anymore. She can just leave the water filter with the fresh and clean water on the table. She also has more time to spend with her children, because she doesn’t have to boil water twice per day, which usually took between 1-2 hours per day depending on the quality of the firewood that she collected that day.
Catarina C. Soares family
After that, we went to see Josefa P. Fernandes family, which was ten minutes walk from the first house. She is a 55 years old, small, strong and energetic woman. When we arrived there she was massaging her friend’s feet with homemade cream to help her blood circulation. She has 12 people living in their house and their household main source of income is the salary from her husband who is a teacher. She helps the family by selling soaps and creams, but it is just an alternative source of income. She was very happy explaining how the Solvatten had helped her and her family, and she said that now that she knew that this kind of technology existed, she could not live without it.
Josefa P. Fernandes in front of her house
Every interview took around half an hour, depending on every family. Sometimes we stayed longer, since they wanted us to have some tea with them and have a little talk. I have to thank Marcelo Soares, who works at Roman Luan, because he helped me carrying out the interviews. He was translating everything to me, because my Tetum is still pretty precarious (it’s been only one and a half month, but I promise that I am still studying and practicing, although it is not enough to have a real and serious conversation…) All the families that we already interviewed pointed out the same facts: now they don’t have to drink boiled water, which didn’t make them sick but gave them a weird taste. When boiling the water, if the wood was not good enough, the smoke came into the water and it made an unpleasant flavor and left solid particles. Therefore, the result of the interview: all of the families rated the product with the highest grade! And they are spreading the word and in a very efficient way. When we were interviewing Filomeno de Deus, who works as a teacher, his neighbor –Domingos Gomes- came to ask for a Solvatten. So when we finished the interview, we all went back to the office and brought him the Solvatten. He bought one for his family.
Domingos Gomes is signing the list to buy one Solvatten
All photos by Olga Permanyer