Guest Speaker Jeff Beyer from Engineers Without Borders
Jeff is a 4th year Carleton University student a double major in Economics and Psychology. He has been involved in Engineers Without Borders since his first year in University, most recently serving as the co-president of the Carleton Chapter. Jeff spent 4 months volunteering overseas through Engineers Without Borders (EWB), working with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in the rural north of Ghana. Currently Jeff is doing volunteer speaking tours in High Schools and Rotary Clubs about his overseas experience to promote International development.

 

In 2000, Engineers Without Borders Canada was formed by two engineering graduates from the Universy of Waterloo  who were interested in tapping into the Canadian engineering profession-a group they believed to be passionate about improving the state of the world. Because of the dedication and passion of the volunteers involved early on, EWB has become one of Canada's most respected development organisations and now has 24,000.00 members and chapters all over Canada.

Jeff shared his stories and thoughts from his summer experiences in a village community in rural Ghana and talked about a 5% knowledge gap. The main source of communication to the outside world for this village for years has been a radio, to improve reception a long copper wire was attached but when it fell and broke the villager replaced the wire with string. The volunteers who attached the copper wire did not give them the knowledge how it worked or how to fix it.

Monsanto an agricultural company with the Ghana Ministry of Food and Agricultural wanted to introduce technology to help Ghana's farmers to increase their food production.  Monsanto donated the chemicals and the Ghana Ministry of Food and Agricultural explained how the chemical should be used. The villagers did not remember how to use the all these chemicals so they combined them all then tested the mixtures with their fingers and to clean their finger they would put it into to mouth. When they were spraying these chemicals the hose would get clogged because of the dirty water, to unclogg the hose they would put it into their mouth and blow into it. The farmers wore no protective clothing while spraying. The spray would come in contact with their skin and they would also breathe in these chemicals. Because of a lack of knowledge the villagers were not aware how dangerous these chemicals were to their health and environment. Many of these village people today are now sterile.  

Jeff also showed us a picture of a field with a donated rusty tractor. The farmer could not use it because they lack of knowledge to fix it, they lack parts and money for fuel. These farmers would have been much better off if some one gave them an ox. 

These projects had no infrastructures to support them and therefore it was not a sustainable project . It is important to acknowledge what else might happen beyond what you intended to happen.  EWB responds to this need by helping people in developing communities to have access to the knowledge and resources with which to meet their basic human needs and promote sustainable development.

Jeff talked and showed us a picture of Dorothy the person he aims to serve, the person to whom he answers for his action and who motivates him. Jeff showed us pictures of various people and asked us to identify with one to help us connect our actions here in Canada with those overseas.

The potential of people to use technology to improve their livelihoods is massive, but it must be properly harnessed and appropriately incorporated into each community's social, cultural, historic, economic and political context.

EWB work overseas is shaped by this belief that human development is the true measurement of progress and change. It is about people, their desire and struggle to expand their freedoms and lead lives they value.

Julio Batres  Thanked Jeff Beyers