Thursday, March 21, 2013


I'd like to tell you a story about the floating village on Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia. It is a lively community and aside from housing its members, there are schools, restaurants, and even karaoke bars.

Life in the floating village can be challenging though. The lake water is used for bathing, cooking, washing, and drinking.  As such, waste management is a big challenge for this community.  Now you may be asking yourself, why would waste management be a factor that deters girls from attending school?

Menstruation is a taboo subject in many cultures.  For the girls and women of the floating village on the Tonle Sap Lake, it means not going to school.  Until recently, there have been no viable sanitation solutions for floating communities.  Previous sanitation designs include digging a trench to hold waste, or flushing waste away to a centralized treatment facility.  Neither of these options are applicable for a floating village.  So when girls begin to menstruate, they miss school, since there is no discrete way of disposing of sanitary napkins.

For this reason, Engineers Without Borders, in hopes of creating cleaner water practices that are gender-sensitive, designed a floating toilet that would help with the disposal of human waste.  It is a great idea and took into consideration the economic factors and culture of the community.  The floating toilets have been trialled in several facilities on the floating village and this achievement alone has shown that girls' access to sanitation, hygiene, and education can be overcome when the practices, preferences, needs, and ideas of girls and women are included in the design process.

One of the founding principles of LunaTech is to introduce girls to technology.  Through this introduction, we believe girls can effect change not only in themselves but in their communities.  Like the girls and women who were part of the design process that lead to gender-sensitive floating toilets in Cambodia, the girls who participate in LunaTech are being taught their voices and ideas do matter and can create solutions to everyday problems.

With this very thought in mind, LunaTech partnered with Youth In Arts, a local non-profit, for a pilot program of Girls+Design.  Girls+Design, a concept created by Suzanne Joyal and Sally Dominguez, hopes to empower and connect girls through engineering and design.

In our first session, Sally told us the story of the Tonle Sap Lake floating toilets.  The girls of LunaTech were shocked that a simple thing such as going to the bathroom was a barrier for girls attending school.  They were happy to hear that engineers had worked hard and incorporated the needs of girls into their product design.

Over the next several weeks, LunaTech worked with Sally & Suzanne, identifying the values that are most important and most defining of who they are.  These values were then translated into pictures and painted on canvas bags that told the story of who each girl was and what she held dear to her.

In the hopes of creating a global connection between girls, the completed bags were collected by Suzanne who brought them to a community of girls in Africa.

We hope to continue this collaboration with Youth In Arts & LunaTech in the Fall of 2013.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

LunaTech Celebrates You

March 8, 2013 was International Women's Day.  While women have the right to vote, control their reproductive health, and get an education, they are still being discriminated, hurt, and overlooked.

LunaTech opened up and talked about some of the stereotypes, mean rumors and feelings of being left out that they've experienced.  They also discussed times when they were most happy, celebrated, and honored.

So to celebrate in our collective beauty, LunaTech created a special message for all women.