in retrospect

October 21, 2007

It’s official, I’m not a good blogger. a lots of crazy things have been happening in my life, all of which are productive in some larger picture, not all of which are comfortable in the moment (no, not runny tummy, as it is called politely in Namibia). So this is the i’m-back-in-the-us-after-a-year-working-in-namibia-and-i-know-less-now-about-things-that-matter-than–thought-i-did-when-i-moved-to-namibia kind of entry.

I’ll post photos and stories, then probably move on to other forms of communication.

What I do know:

I lived in Namibia for a year, punctuated by some travel after my contract to zambia and tanzania .

eliaser and i built 45 bicycle ambulances before i left namibia (really though he did most of the building). Data will come in about how useful (quantitatively) they are for helping people access health care. From what we know now, it’s pretty clear that they are making a difference and that community health organizations see them as a valuable contribution to health care provision in rural areas in Namibia. Another 40 ambulances will be built in the next 5 months, hopefully punctuated with some bicycle trailers that can both carry cargo (firewood, water, goods to market….) and passengers for medical transport. What do you all in Southern Africa think about the name “Bike Bakki?”

So more soon, just a quick note to say I’m happy and well fed and my crops are growing well.

Dalai Lama ambulance

August 26, 2007

dalai lama ambulance2

Originally uploaded by aaronforest.

The Hampshire College President’s office offered a bicycle ambulance to the Dalai Lama as a gift, as an example of a project that is a direct outcome from Hampshire’s philosophy of education. I was honored, to say the least. here it is before we ship it to Dharamsala, India.

What shall we call it? A Dalambulance? Lambulance? Lamabulance?


Originally uploaded by aaronforest.

Nick came from UMass Amherst, to be my intern for the Bicycle Ambulance Project for 2 months. He joined Niki Dun and myself in the North for the monitoring visits to Okathitu (prototype 3) and Catholic Aids Action (prototype 4, in villages cordinated from Oshikuku). There we moments of all sorts, but this was a relaxing one for me for sure.

coppelia reflection

July 31, 2007

coppelia reflection

Originally uploaded by aaronforest.

The trip to monitor 2 ambulance prototypes, and deliver five, to two different groups, was exhausting, but we found a few quiet moments. The Opuwo Country Lodge has a salt water pool on the top of the hill, overlooking a beautiful valley. The salt water keeps the pool clean without the use of additional chemicals, and provides a nice setting for the photography of sunset moments. In photo, Copellia, Opuwo PCV.

red cross 2

Originally uploaded by aaronforest.

Two Red Cross Volunteers race bicycle ambulances at the ambulance training in Opuwo, Kunene Region, Namibia. Red Cross received two bicycle ambulances for use with the Home Based Care Program in the locations.


July 30, 2007


Originally uploaded by aaronforest.

Design For Development Director Niki Dun helps Aaron Wieler facilitate a bicycle ambulance training workshop in Oshandi, Ohangwena Region in Namibia, for a delivery of three ambulances to the Ombome Oto Home Based Care volunteers.

inside of grease filter

June 23, 2007

amb-nampost 038

Originally uploaded by aaronforest.

the unfilterable goop from filtering 50 liters of used restaurant grease for our greasecar…we finally got the kit installed in the bakki (thank you Justin and Greasecar!!!!) The coolant didn’t like being split between three parallel loops: the oil filter cooler, the cabin heater, and the grease tank, so we put the cabin heater and grease tank in series–though it still doens’t flow at all when the engine is idling. Interesting. I’m not sure messing with the oil filter cooling system is the best option, though it would certainly help our grease heat up.


Originally uploaded by aaronforest.

The Bicycling Empowerment Trailer is designed for use and manufacture in Namibia, to address some of the transport problems in rural areas and to help meet the needs of disadvantaged Namibians through improving access to healthcare and offering income generation opportunities.

This bicycle trailer may be adapted to meet any needs—this trailer is designed to use 26” wheels, but may be adapted for any size. Any number of attachments may be created for the trailer, including locked boxes, signs, sun shades, beds, and display racks.

***Some possible uses in Namibia***
Transporting water
Shopping for food
Selling prepared food
Bicycle-pulled ambulance transportation
Moving sick people
Carrying bricks and cement
Rickshaw for tourists
And more….

charriot trailer diagram

Originally uploaded by aaronforest.

New trailer design, for a flatsy-like cart that also operates as a manual push cart. The pulling arms secure the load, and this design actually uses less material than “flatsy”. I’ve designed a universal joint, made from M16 or 5/8″ nuts and bolts as well. This trailer attaches beneath the seat on a bicycle with a drop-in pin mechanism, like Bikes At Work uses, more or less. This design is heavily influenced by my work with bicycle Ambulances in Namibia.

seatpost hitch

May 25, 2007

roll6 052

Originally uploaded by aaronforest.

This is the hitch I designed for the BEN ambulances. I will also use this design for my new trailer design, “Chariot”, which is built with the design principles that guide my community bike cart design project and the designs “Deep and Short” and “Flatsy”. Low cost in parts, can be fabricated with minimal experience and simple tools, etc–but this design pulls under the seat on the bicycle for operation as a hand cart as well. The BEN Namibia trailer that I am designing is based on similar technolog, but uses kink bends reinforced with 10mm rod to eliminate the need for a 25mm tubing bender, as conduit bender for 25mm OD tube aren’t strong enough to bend 25 X 1.6mm tubing, nor are they available in Namibia, nor is the radius small enough.

This hitch attaches to a bicycle seatpost (left side of photo), has a hitch pin that slides through the trailer pivot tube to allow easy removal, and a universal joint made from nuts and bolts. I am redesigning two of the pivots to spin freely, instead of on threaded surfaces, which introduce the potential for binding and unsafe operation.