Engineers without Borders

Many times we take for granted clean drinkable water and the use of electricity at night when we want to read or do our homework or roads to travel on and homes to live in.  We in the United States are lucky that we do not have to ‘think’ of these simple yet very important luxuries.

My first introduction to Engineers without Borders (EWB) was at the Rotary Poverty Conference 2007 held at CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo, CA.  This was a student chapter who presented a power point presentation on the work they had begun in a small village where the people did not have electricity.

Our Rotary Club in Los Osos was fortunate to have the Engineers without Borders Cal Poly Chapter give a presentation on their projects, Friday January 30.  Eric spoke on his project in Thailand, where he will have a hands-on opportunity during Spring break and will remain studying in Thailand for one quarter.  Eric’s project focuses on water purification in the hills of Northern Thailand with a population of over 3000 people.  The water purification tanks are simple but they provide the community clean & safe water to drink.  This group has also been successful in building small tanks for individual homes where they teach the family how to care & use them. 

The EWB water purification tanks are not just to provide the people of Northern Thailand clean water but to educate them about hygiene, sanitation and health related illness.  The student chapter works closely with the Professional EWB Chapter and with a Thai orphanage in the village to help maintain a successful relationship and project.

Jeremy discussed his project and experience in Nueva Vida, Nicaragua where asthma is the number one health issue for children under five years old.  This is a community that was devastated by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and continues to suffer.  The EWB has built water storage tanks and are working on securing fewer electrical outages and for the sick they will be building a health facility which is not an easy task on the side of a hill.  Engineers without Borders do not see obstacles only work that needs to me done.

The third project is in South East Asia, where the students are making ICEB homes.  ICEB are Interlocking Compressed Earth Blocks that the students and villagers can make to construct homes.  The ICEB homes are cost efficient, quick & easy to build providing people with safe homes.

As Rotarians we have found a connection with the EWB members who do humanitarian service.  Already two of our members are planning potential projects for Rwanda and the Philippines.  To learn more about the student chapter at Cal Poly or to make a donation visit: http://ceenve3.civeng.calpoly.edu/ewb/Home.htm

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