WILMINGTON -- In 100-plus countries around the world more than 500 million people eat peanuts each day as their primary source of protein. The process of shelling those nuts was a grueling, meticulous effort. One local organization decided to transform that challenge into an opportunity. Six years ago a trip to Africa to help a friend in the Peace Corps made a local man aware of a challenge. Wilmington inventor Jock Brandis said, "I came in and here are old women, literally crouched on the ground with a flat rock, taking a nut at a time and hitting it with a stick until it breaks and when you see their fingers, you soon realize that they've been hitting their fingers as much as they've been hitting the nuts." Tony Lumu is the Director of Operations, Uganda, Full Belly Project. He said, "People were getting discouraged because it takes a lot of work for them to really pick the, get their nuts from the shells. By the time you get a full sack of nuts, it's really a very long time." Aware of the need to incorporate "appropriate technology" to find a solution, Wilmington inventor jock Brandis was inspired to develop a simple machine to shell nuts. Brandis said, "We make machines out of concrete, and everyone knows that concrete is what you build bridges and roads and buildings out of, but you don't make machinery out of concrete. When you think it over, concrete is a perfect medium because it's cheap and everyone in the world knows how to do it and it lasts a long time." The concept was intriguing to a group of locals who were returned Peace Corp volunteers. Full Belly President Jay Tervo said, "Jock came to us with this idea that he had developed in terms of how to create a machine that has literally a need around the world for this device." Brandis's enthusiasm quickly got like-minded individuals on-board and the Full Belly Project was born. Full Belly Executive Director Jeff Rose said, "He is the most lovable mad scientist, that's the perfect way of saying it." Brandis said, "I have bad posture and I dress badly, too, and I'm forgetful and I laugh at my own jokes. On the plus side, I don't know, I'm a good guy to know if your car breaks down, because I can probably fix it." "I love working with Jock," Rose said. "It's a joy working with him. He has endless ideas and I think it's inspiring to the entire organization." Tervo said, "We are a passionate group of mostly volunteers who work together to make a difference in countries that most of our volunteers will never see." Full Belly project has been working to help empower residents of underdeveloped nations worldwide for five years. Tervo said, "It's just a heartwarming opportunity to live out of that, think locally and act globally and how to make a difference around the world just right here at home." The Full Belly project is always looking for extra help. If you have time to make photocopies, or tinker, or brainstorm on ways to find solutions to everyday challenges, volunteers are always needed on Saturdays.
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