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How the Bamboo Travois came to be invented

The Rescue Travois -- 

For Rescue Efforts

The travois is an ancient design used by the American Plains Indians, who had to move their villages as they followed bison herds across America's Great Plains.  The travois, harnessed to a horse, was used to transport all their belongings, as well as the sick, elderly, and chidren.


Alexis Lewis updated this design in 2012 by adding wheels and designing it so it could be towed, hands-free, by a person. Alexis was inspired to make this "Rescue Travois" when she heard that hundreds of children had been left by the roadsides to die on the way to refugee centers during the 2011 Somali Famine.  In future situations, the Rescue Travois could be flat-shipped and air-dropped onto the most-used refugee roads and assembled by the refugees with simple, LEGO-like instructions.

The Bamboo Travois -- 

Made by Villagers, for Villagers

Public health experts advised Alexis that the Rescue Travois is needed in rural Africa to help the sick, elderly, and women in delivery distress reach doctors in time.  So Alexis designed a simple, inexpensive Bamboo Travois that can be built easily by village carpenters.  Alexis chose bamboo because it is very strong and grows throuhout Africa.


The Bamboo Travois also could be helpful to villagers for taking their goods to market, hauling water, and other daily tasks.


Click here to learn how to build the Bamboo Travois.

To learn more about Alexis and the Bamboo Travois, watch Smithsonian Magazine's profile video about her:

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