Engineers Without Borders and BUILD LA Present on Current Projects and Share Ideas by Amira Al-Subaey

by tuftsigl
Apr 24

Once a year, members of IGL affiliated groups BUILD Latin America and Engineers Without Borders (EWB) come together to present the history and mission of their organizations, share the process of their program’s work, and elaborate on their current projects and the challenges and successes within them.

BUILD Latin America is a student-led organization that aims to immerse students in the theory and practice of sustainable development specifically in Latin America. BUILD LA forms multi-year partnerships with NGO’s and other local community organizations throughout Latin America. BUILD members serve as year-long student consultants who work with organizations to support their marketing, outreach, website development, and fundraising efforts.

Students shared their group structure noting that BUILD LA is divided into teams who organize to provide sustainable development for a specific developing community in Latin America, this year the two teams were based in Ecuador and Honduras. Each team is led by a consulting director, and the E-Board also includes event coordinators and an outreach director.

The BUILD LA team based in Ecuador shared their project details and the challenges they faced as the project progressed. The team started with intense research on the educational needs in Ecuador. Next, they reached out to different prospective partner organizations, and decided to partner with Libraries without borders to implement the Koombook Program in Ecuador to bring portable digital libraries to isolated communities. After conducting a needs assessment of Ecuador's educational landscape, two team members traveled to Ecuador to formally introduce the program and demonstrate its technology. The original program plan shifted its focus due to the earthquake that destroyed 280 schools in Ecuador which intensified the need for sustainable development in the education field. Once the project details were finalized, the team started fundraising and matching campaigns to fund the project sustainably.

The BUILD LA team based in Honduras focused on a more sustainable health care program. The Action for Education (AcE) team is working primarily to advance AcE's nursing school project, Trinidad School of Nursing (TSN) to benefit the community's overall public health and increase access to health education. Students noted that a key part of the nursing school is the community health seminar program, in which each student receives training in conducting community health education, and once per month will return to their respective villages or neighborhoods in Trinidad and conduct community health seminars. BUILD LA students tackled social media and began spreading the word on twitter to raise awareness for the project.

Tufts Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is a student led Tufts University chapter of a larger national organization with more than 600 projects operating in 42 countries. The organization designs and implements sustainable engineering projects in developing communities. EWB usually takes on projects in Africa and Latin America and divides their members into roles according to project region. The team members are currently working on projects in small communities in Malawi and Nicaragua. The team members noted that their projects operate on a 3 step process: assess, implement, and monitor.

The students working in Malawi noted their pre-assessment work which includes research of water access, culture and language in Malawi prior to their first assessment trip in August. They noted how under EWB instructions, the community must contribute 5% to the project, whether that be manual labor, skilled labor, or financial assistance to the project. Through their research they found that this particular village had built a plethora of brick structures, and EWB projects could utilize that technique to encourage community contribution.

The team operating a project in Nicaragua noted that they are in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign to fund students to travel to Nicaragua to do their initial assessment trip in order to better analyze the needs to water access and the most appropriate solutions given the immediate climate and culture. An integral part to EWB’s goal to be accessible to all students is that students never have to pay to travel to do research, the funds are always gathered through fundraising or grants. Students from both clubs had the opportunity to learn strategies and share successful tips and tricks with one another. Both shared strategies on how to fundraise in engaging ways to help both spread awareness of these issues on campus, and to get people to donate. Both clubs also often hold events on campus featuring speakers with a range of experiences to educate the Tufts community on issues of sustainability and development around the world.