From Banana Fibres in Rwanda to MRI Scanners in the UK

August 2, 2011
Oxford, England

This August we're bringing back the voices that helped SHE grow from the ground-up. Their passion for communities, especially the girls and women in them, drove this organization forward and brought opportunities to those we set out to serve. For this, we are forever thankful.

And now, let's hear from them and the exciting things they are up to!

From Hannah Brice, one of the first SHE Wizards to head to Rwanda in summer 2008 for the needs assessment survey and strategy groundwork....

It is great to hear and see how SHE has progressed since my involvement during its early days in 2007. The stream of news from Rwanda and Elizabeth in New York about SHE’s growth fills me with a huge sense of achievement and pride. The summer we spent in Rwanda shall always live fresh within my memory. I learnt a lot through those two months, lessons and values that I try to follow back home here at Oxford in England.

A lot has changed for me since the birth of SHE. For one, I am no longer a student. I graduated in Materials Science from Cambridge University in June 2009 - incase you are confused I was an exchange student at MIT - and moved to the rival city of Oxford to start my first job at Siemens Magnet Technology.



At the Siemens site, based just outside of Oxford, all of the Siemens Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners are manufactured, along with an office full of engineers and physicists who have played a part in the design of the MRI magnet (that’s where I come in). MRI technology combines so many different aspects of science and technology. Firstly there are the superconducting coils that at a temperature of 4.2 K (that is -267°C), which can carry current with absolute zero resistance. The significance of this, is that once the switch is closed, current can continue to flow, which results in a magnetic field of up to 100,000 times that of the earth’s field. Strong stuff! The forces that the coils experience can be huge - think jumbo jet size scale, and they all have to be held in position to the within a range of less than 0.1mm. Yeah, it is pretty cool stuff - quite literally, and I am loving working for the world’s leading manufacturer of MRI scanners.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has had a huge impact on healthcare. This medical imaging technique visualizes internal tissues in the body with sufficient contrast allowing for clear images of patients’ muscles brain and heart. Not only has this advanced our understanding of the human body, it is a crucial tool in the diagnosis of conditions and illnesses such as cancer. This year MRI technology has been voted one of the top ten scientific breakthroughs of the past 50 years.

Designing MRI scanners may seem far removed from trying to work out how to transform banana fibres into an absorbent sanitary pad in Rwanda. But every technology has to start from its grass roots, and MRI scanning technology is no different, starting out in Peter Mansfield’s back garden shed. Just as MRI technology has matured and played a key role in global health advances, I believe the same shall be true for SHE, transforming the lives of females across developing countries and ensuring that affordable sanitary protection is available for all whilst also enabling women to pursue a profitable career.

Hannah B!

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