In early September a group of four Walla Walla University students traveled to the remote village of Manzini, Eswatini, accompanied by two WWU employees. The purpose of the trip was to complete preliminary assessments of a new humanitarian project site. While the end goal of the project might include a women’s care facility and an orphanage, right now the group is focused on creating basic infrastructure such as a wastewater treatment plan.
The students—who are members of the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) club at WWU—spent four days collecting technical data, taking soil samples, and making valuable connections with locals. Because of the remote location, a lot of time was spent traveling. However, Alex Fazio, senior mechanical engineering major and project leader, said the trip was productive and satisfying despite their limited time.
This initial trip placed an emphasis on connecting with the community in order to better understand their needs and more effectively meet their needs. On Sabbath afternoon after church, the group played and sang with underprivileged children who lived in a homeless camp. Fazio was touched by the joy of kids in such difficult living conditions and said, “In the past I'd heard similar stories from others telling of this happiness shown by these children, completely undimmed by their living situations. However, seeing it in person was a completely different experience, and it's something I will never forget.”
Fazio explained this new project site was selected over other options because of the acute needs of the community and the potential for making a real impact in the area. The area is so remote that EWB does not have a presence there, and the WWU chapter is working with an organization called Saving Orphans Through Healthcare and Outreach to make the project a success.
The team is looking forward to creating a sustainable project in Manzini that will positively impact the community far into the future. The EWB-WWU club is open to students of all majors and Fazio said they are hoping to recruit more members this school year.
Engineers Without Borders is a nationwide non-profit organization consisting of professional and student chapters that use their engineering skills to help communities in need. The Walla Walla University chapter was founded seven years ago, starting with a project in Honduras. To learn more about the group, visit ewb-wwu.org.
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Posted Sept 29, 2022.