Everyone should be able to take a warm shower. Benefits range from relieving stress and preventing illness to helping boast self esteem. Yet millions, if not billions of people go each day without a shower. In the Chile campamentos, most families resort to bathing by parts, which means they would fill up a bucket with preheated water, and use a cup sized container to rinse themselves. This process is time consuming, cumbersome, requires several containers to accomplish, and ultimately results in a cold shower that my lead to illness such as pneumonia.
This is why we found it so essential to address bathing as an issue and to find solutions to some of these problems. A key part in finding an appropriate solution is to narrow down the problems and see which are most crucial and which would make the biggest impact. At the top of our list was figuring out a way to eliminate cold showers and thus reduce the risk of illness. This does not necessarily mean we should find a better way of heating the bathe water, because the water that is retrieved from a kettle off the stove can reach boiling temperatures, which is in fact hotter then we’d like. The real problem is distribution of the hot water as well as consistency. This is where the idea of delivering a hot shower came in. We have the privilege of enjoying a hot shower. We turn a knob and instantly we are more relaxed, and for those few minutes, our worries go away. The people of the campamento deserve this opportunity, to have a warm shower on daily basis.
The key for resolving this issue was to find a proper way of pressurizing the water source, with minimal cost or effort. This meant using some sort of pump. We soon realized that the limitations of cost, were actually levels of investment. We could offer a variety of options at a variety of costs. This doesn’t mean the shower quality must suffer, but that the prep time may be different, and the steps involved may be different. In fact, it is ideal for us to establish a guarantee of shower quality just so that no one is penalized with an increased risk of illness because they are not able to afford a higher quality shower. If the shower quality did suffer because of the lowered price, then it what would be the point? we would not be solving anything at that point.
For the midterm we were able to present three levels of investment, ranging from $7 to $17, and each offered its own positive aspect. The first had the ability to adapt and be resourceful to its environment using the most minimal of new parts, and a handful of found objects. The second level offers the ability to be placed on a stove and heated directly before being moved to the shower location. This requires mostly new parts, yet is again sticking to bare minimum equipment. The third and highest level of investment uses all brand new parts, and offers a foot valve to control the water flow. This one can give a ten minute shower before requiring to be pumped again, but would require the water to be heated separately before being poured into the main reservoir.
The overall response from our audience was positive. They were impressed by the quality of the water flow from the shower. The mutual feeling was that the shower concepts we had proposed were great because they did not lessen the shower experience; that this experience was exactly how our showers experiences are (hot water, great flow, and a responsive on/off control). Our fears were that the system may be too large of an investment, but the guys from Un Techo Para Chile assured us that this was not the case, and that the investment levels were quite reasonable. There were some areas we were suggested to look at. These included the heading system, and mechanism. They asked that we try to make the distribution system and the heating system more unified, potentially eliminating the need to travel to the stove to retrieve hot water. Also, they asked that we take a look at the drainage system, and attempt to find a better way of draining the shower area.
As a group we feel quite confident that we are on the right track for midterm, and that our solutions are evolving at a great pace. We recognize the need to decide on how to introduce this solution to Chile and potentially the world as well as consider potential partners. While we are looking for the most complete solution, we also recognize the need to be able to offer options, because no two environments and no two users are alike. Thus, regardless of how great we can make a system, we need to make sure it is the right system for the lives of those that will be using it. We are looking forward to the next few weeks leading to the final design solution and business model. We feel that this project can drastically change the lives of millions around the world.