In college I deeply desired to use my engineering skills to basically save the world, a typical non-spoken thought of most 18-20 year olds. I had all this energy and passion with no direction or place to focus it. Around the end of my sophomore year I discovered Engineering Without Borders (EWB), the Texas A&M student chapter. This organization uses volunteer engineers to provide specialized solutions for implementation in disadvantaged communities. While in college, I was part of two teams: one that designed a library for local school children in Acuna, Mexico, and another that designed a community bathroom in Costa Rica. Both of which I committed the bare requirements in participation, mainly because I tried to be involved in too many things and valued my social life more than actually having to work hard at something that wasn’t spelled out neatly. EWB was indeed difficult technically, financially, and politically. They face countless obstacles but seem to persevere through in order to bring joy and safety to literally thousands of communities.
Now that I am a working professional, I see the value in organizations such as EWB much more. I have been attending the local Houston professional meetings and aspire to be involved with the Kenya water project soon. EWB Houson currently has projects in Bolivia, Kenya, Uganda, El Salvador, Nicaragua, India, and a soon potential for a rainwater harvesting project right here in Houston. Which brings up another point that has always bothered me: when people question you for wanting to bless developing nations by judgementally saying “they is so much to be done right hurr in Amerikuah”. Yes, you are right ignorant citizen, so why don’t YOU do something about that. I have yet to meet a single person that uses this argument and is actively involved in local community serving, and I have similarly yet to meet someone who gives their time, finances, and skills to developing countries that is NOT also serving in their own community. When your heart bleeds to love people and give of your abundant blessings, it is impossible to choose who deserves this love based on their geographic location.
Anyway, Engineers Without Borders hosted an event last week at the local beer brewery where they sold very high tickets and used the money to invest in water purification technologies in these developed nations. I’m sure this could be seen as controversial, but hey, it brought people out because let’s face it – people like beer. It was an okay event. I admire this organization, but as my husband argues, it seems to take a while to get much done. I wholeheartedly believe this is in large part due to the fact that people are volunteering their time AFTER work and family; also, the EWB members have to raise their own finances for the implementation trips and supplies. I’m not one to judge, as I myself have definitely devoted much more of my time to work, church, and family as compared with EWB, but perhaps it’s time for a few logistical changes to help bring this global organization to its full capability.