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Work + Play in Maasai Land
Robert V. Lange

I'm writing you from Annapolis where I've just returned after two very exciting months in Tanzania, where I'm planning to return in early fall.
So much is moving forward! Read below about the launch of the Math Olympiad, progress with the Children's Weekend Center, and other new activities at Cypress Hill, and a breakthrough with the ICSEE cow fodder formula.
And just like everywhere else, we meet with logistical problems and challenges. But through the power of cooperation, and with your support, we are growing and thriving.
With great appreciation,


August 2019
Cypress Hill
Building a swingset at the Cypress Hill Children's Weekend Center
Work on Cypr ess Hill progresses. We’re in the process of completing the new Children’s Weekend Center which includes a study room, play area, and restaurant.
Play space
We’ll soon complete the surface material of our new climbing and sliding mountain, almost 100 square meters in all. We’re weaving it out of tire rubber. When it is ready, we can open the new play space.
The new log climbing structure is complete, along with the swings—one with seats and the other with a tire swing that several kids can ride at the same time. 
We made netball and basketball hoops out of smooth re-bar, and mounted them both at the edge of our small soccer field.   
We’ve completed the design for a little restaurant to serve the kids and their parents, with construction scheduled to start soon.  
Olympiad for students

Last week we held our first Math Olympiad at Cypress Hill.  Six schools sent teams of boys and girls—52 students in all.

I took great care in preparing the exam questions, working on them for a couple of weeks.  I wanted to give students a chance to reveal their curiosity and creativity, in addition to the skills that their exams normally measure.

The kids found the exam really interesting.  They had never seen math questions like these. Boys and girls did equally well, and the event was a great success. We learned a lot and will apply that learning in the next event, probably in October.
We created the Olympiad for several reasons. We want the campus to become well known for its potential to bring life-enriching opportunities.

In addition, the competition illustrates an approach to educational reform that emphasizes ways to work just outside the system. This allows fruitful collaboration between those embedded in the system, like math teachers in the schools, and those who are free to bring innovation, like the ICSEE.

Of course, there were logistical problems. Sangoyan, pictured at the right, drove off twice in our tiny Suzuki, each time returning with seven students packed inside. It reminded me of the famous circus act where 20 clowns emerge from a VW bug.

We recognized ten students, 6 girls and 4 boys for their best scores.  We awarded them with very nice backpacks filled with school supplies.  The best score was 37 out of 70, by the young man pictured above, and that was really impressive.

Cow fodder breakthrough
As we reported in the last issue, we want to use three ingredients to prepare excellent fodder for livestock that herders can buy at a reasonable price when the grasslands are letting them down.

Ingredients include maize brand (the nutritious parts of corn kernels discarded by cornflour production facilities); sunflower cake (left over after pressing sunflower seeds for oil); and corncobs (these have fiber and carbohydrate, but too much lignin for easy digestion by cows).
We aim to produce 15 bags, 50 kg each, of fodder each week, for the five months of problematic pasturing. And most exciting, the food will be environmentally worthwhile because the ingredients are essentially agricultural waste.  
The lignin posed the challenge of treating the cobs to improve their digestibility. For more than a year we researched dissolving the lignin by soaking the cobs in caustic soda, draining it, and then neutralizing with hydrochloric acid. It was an effective process, but cumbersome and expensive.
    All in the family

My son-in-law and grandson, Gordon and Colton Hankins, work in the realm of agricultural chemicals. They told me that silage can also work to improve digestibility.
Instead of removing the lignin, they recommended using bacteria to act on the plant cells, "pre-digesting" it for the cattle. The corn cobs are placed in an oxygen-depleted container where the bacteria work on them. The process requires a bio-inoculant to provide the needed bacteria.
After an extensive search, we located Molaplus, an inoculant produced in north-central Kenya. We soaked about 50 kilograms of ground-up cobs in 40 liters of water with 2 liters of Molaplus and four liters of molasses, and let it work for four days. It smelled wonderful….. rather alcoholic…. and the cows are going to love it!  

Designing a process for smooth production comes next. We're mounting a sack-closing sewing machine; designing drying towers for the corncobs after silage; and automating the mixing of ingredients.

And we are very happy that this growth means an increase in employment. We just hired three more people to work at the factory. Adding income potential is an essential goal embedded in all our work.   Thank you for providing the funds that make this all possible.
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