EWB-USA is an international, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in developing countries through sustainable engineering projects.
Over the past eight years, CC-EWB members have established a strong and enduring relationship with the Santa Maria del Mexicana Orphanage near Colon, Mexico. There are currently two CC-EWB projects at Santa Maria.
The first project was a waste-water treatment system that allows the orphanage to clean its waste-water and use it for fish farming and irrigation. This conserves water and stops contamination of a nearby river, which is a primary water source for downstream towns. This project has been completed but is still monitored on a regular basis.
The second project was the development of a mile-long pipeline from a nearby reservoir to five local spice fields. By selling locally-grown crops/spices, the orphanage is able to pay for more of its kids to go to college. The entire pipeline was completed during our trip in March 2012 and successfully tested in October 2012.
The next step was to install sprinklers and drip irrigation in the various fields. As of May 2014 sprinklers have been installed in all seven fields. We are currently working on continuing to establish the Spices to College project. On upcoming trips we will be making marketing assessments and evaluating the sale of certain crops to surrounding areas in order to make profit for the Santa Maria children to attend college. Upon the completion of the Spices to College project the chapter anticipates continuing involvement through a potential bridge project.
CC-EWB is currently working to reinforce the structures at La Asunción, the local school in Santo Tomás La Union. In the event of an earthquake, the current buildings are at a very high risk of collapsing. During our trip in May 2012, a team of students, faculty, and professional mentors collaborated with a local construction crew in Santo Tomás to begin construction on 3 of the 18 structural support walls that will be required to provide adequate protection of the school against earthquakes. This process is ongoing, but the results will provide a structurally sound building and safe place for locals to seek refuge in the event of a natural disaster.
CC-EWB is also starting a clean water project at La Asunción. Currently, the amount of bacteria in the water supply is 40x the United States legal limit. Students frequently become ill because the water is not suitable for drinking and because they do not really have an alternative for clean drinking water .The goal is to bring clean water to the school which will benefit not only the students, but the surrounding community.
The first trip to St. Lucia in January 2015 was an assessment trip. Our goal was to ascertain the problems with the Marian Home's water system and then draft alternative designs based upon observations we make on our travel trip as well as community input. Future trips will involve the implementation of our improved system as well as monitoring of it. A huge part of Engineers Without Borders is also educating the community we are serving so they can help themselves and others in the future. Therefore a large portion of our time will be spent in explaining the system so they will be able to independently maintain it in the future. See the KBLL video about expanding our efforts into St. Lucia.
Engineers Without Borders-USA envisions a world where all people have access to adequate sanitation, safe drinking water, and the resources to meet other self-identified engineering and economic development needs.
EWB-USA partners with developing communities to improve their quality of life through implementation of environmentally and economically sustainable engineering projects, while developing and fostering strong relationships among internationally responsible engineers and local community leaders.
There are currently 12,000 members of EWB-USA with 350 projects in over 45 developing countries. Engineers Without Borders USA has changed the lives of millions of people around the world. Go to www.ewb-usa.org for information about EWB-USA.
In 2013, the Carroll College Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (spearheaded by Prof. Jack Oberweiser) raised $1,000 for the Santa Maria Orphanage in Mexico to buy some new guitars for the kids to play. In addition, Santa Maria has a new singing director, Xavier, who has done great work with the kids. In fact, they are gaining much local recognition for thier vocal performances. They have been invited to do a Christmas performance at the Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows in the nearby town of Soriano.
The last night (October 18, 2013) that our Engineers Without Borders team (including Jack Oberweiser) was at the Santa Maria Orphanage, some of the kids surprised us with a small and moving performance of 5 songs in their chapel. All the songs they sang were religious in nature, but the one on the video speaks, in part, about solidarity - the need for all of us to walk together as we walk with the Lord. This is a founding principle both of Catholic social teaching, and the Hunthausen Mission Statement.
The song on the recording was the last of the 5 songs they sang. "May the Lord be with you." It was recorded by Willis Wetstein on his cell phone. As you can see in the video, the kids used two of the guitars that were purchased with the money. Right after the performance in the chapel, we went outside where they had a farewell bonfire for us and we roasted marshmallows together.