Generosity in service is a core theme on the Walla Walla University campus. The community at WWU actively searches for opportunities to pour hope, joy, and courage into the communities around them and around the world, just as Jesus poured his energy into caring for those around him. One of many ways this goal is put into action at WWU is through various projects organized by the WWU chapter of Engineers Without Borders.
The country of Peru is currently a main focus for EWB-WWU. Students from the WWU School of Engineering have been working for the past two years in the communities of Japurá and Labrumani to provide electricity for hundreds of people. This electric power in the remote village helps to improve the financial independence and educational system of residents by extending work hours. School children previously had only an hour or two to complete homework before the sun went down. With the electricity that is now provided by the more than 80 solar systems installed by EWB-WWU during the past two years, students can now study into the evening.
Over Thanksgiving break in November a group of seven students from WWU traveled to Peru to install 12 mobile solar systems for the remote village of Labrumani. The village is situated at an elevation of nearly 15,000 feet, which is higher than any point in the continental United States. To reach the village, the students had to ride two hours on rough roads before climbing two more hours on a narrow trail in the thin atmosphere to reach the village. The residents of Labrumani spend time at three different locations throughout the year—winter at a low encampment, fall and spring at the main village, and summer at the high camp at 16,000 feet. The residents were excited to receive the solar systems, which provide power for lighting and radios at each camp and which allow them to make the crafts that are their only source of income.
Brian Hartman, assistant professor of education, joined the students on their Thanksgiving trip to Japurá to check on work that was done last year. “I appreciated the opportunity to work with a mission-sensitive group such as Engineers Without Borders,” said Hartman. “Part of our trip was to check in on 75 solar systems we installed a year ago. The headman of the village made a statement that of all the aid groups that have worked with their village, not one has ever come back to see if things were still working.”
The second location of focus for EWB-WWU is in Meghalaya, India, where WWU engineering students are partnering with Riverside Adventist Academy to construct a new school building with improved water and sanitation systems. Their long-term goal is to help the school become self-sustainable, while also providing a supportive spiritual atmosphere.
This year, EWB-WWU also is involved with a project in Walla Walla, Washington, working with the Exchange Club of Walla Walla to improve conditions for the annual Ducky Derby fundraiser. Funds raised during the Ducky Derby help improve the lives of underprivileged children in Walla Walla. Each year for the event, 20,000 sponsored rubber ducks are released into Mill Creek north of Walla Walla to float down the 30-foot wide river. The riverbank is slippery and uneven, which makes it dangerous for people to wade in and collect the rubber ducks at the end of the race. Students involved with EWB-WWU are working to design and build a machine that will make the collection process easier and safer.
To learn more about EWB-WWU and to discover how you can support their work, visit wallawalla.edu/ewb.
Posted Dec. 11, 2018