Kelly McCain: Limpopo, South Africa – Blog #2

11 July 2016:

I have been taking a lot of photos of my time here in Limpopo, South Africa, both of fun adventures we have gone on, and also of the work we have been doing. Here is a chronicle of my experiences so far this summer!


This photo is of a road in Dzimauli, the group of villages in which we have been working. Dzimauli is in a beautiful valley flanked by rocky mountains with a river running through the center. It is an absolutely beautiful location for an office.





Here, I was walking with Mavis, a fieldworker, and Sarah, a UNIVEN student, to our next household where we would perform the baseline assessment. After we visit the households with the fieldworkers, the next day, we return to collect water samples from the interventions we gave them. For example, if the household was randomly placed into Group A, the group with a filter and 2 Madidrops, we would return and get a water sample from the spigot on the intervention bucket as well as a sample from another water storage container. This is how our days have been for the past couple of weeks – we have collected water samples from 73 households so far.



kelly3With the water samples we collect from households, we perform membrane iltration, a method of determining how much bacteria is in water. The purpose of it is to see how well the Madidrops, filter, or bucket has done to disinfect the water. Later, the growth of children in the study will be compared to the demonstrated disinfection. The petri dishes on the right show no bacterial colonies, but on the left, there are more than 300 for 100 mL of water. This is a good example of the Madidrops disinfecting the water very effectively.

kelly4In addition to collecting water samples from the household we visit, we are also collecting water from various water sources around Dzimauli. Here, I am testing the pH with field probes in the Mutale River. A group of local children were fascinated, so we let them help us take the measurements. We collect 120 liters each day from these water sources around Dzimauli, bring them back to the lab at UNIVEN, put them in buckets with MadiDrops, and then do membrane filtration 8 hours later, when the MadiDrops have had time to work.








This photo is of pottery at the Mukondeni Filter Factory in Mashamba. The potters who made these beautiful pieces of pottery also are the ones who, with the support of Pure Madi, make the filters that we are using for our human health study. We took a couple of trips out to the factory to see the process of making the filters as well as to bring some filters back to UNIVEN. We also each picked up (more than) a few pieces of the beautiful handmade pottery.

kelly6During our last weekend in Thohoyandou, we decided to explore a little bit around the area and look for the tea plantations nearby. We saw them from afar since they were closed on the weekend, but we did drive through a beautiful forest to get to this beautiful lake right at sunset. It was definitely a great way for the sun to set on our time in South Africa.



This is one of my favorite photos from the trip. We spent two weekends at Leshiba Wilderness Reserve, a beautiful place dedicated to wildlife conservation. This orange tree is a remnant from the garden of the people who used to own the reserve. The tree is not endemic to the region, but I thought it was a gorgeous backdrop for the two almost identical giraffes.

kelly8This is a photo of our team at Leshiba. Liz had not arrived yet for this visit to Leshiba, but we brought her along the other weekend we went. It was an amazing, busy, interesting summer with a wonderful team. I’m very proud of all of the work we have accomplished.




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