The following text is the latest installment in a series of articles introducing the people and projects that make up Seeds of Change, the latest fundraising initiative from the McGill Alma Mater Fund.
Help, not a handout
At Seeds of Change, the latest fundraising initiative from the McGill Alma Mater Fund, we like to have fun and, from time to time, we get a little silly. But we can also be 100 percent serious when it comes to the issues that matter most to us. Poverty is one of these issues.
So we knew we had found our socially conscious counterparts when we discovered the McGill chapter of Engineers Without Borders. The unsung heroes behind EWB McGill like to say that “Poverty is not about weakness. Poverty is an absence of opportunity.” That’s exactly what we were thinking, but they’re much more articulate when it comes to discussing how we can best help the 800 million people worldwide who go hungry each day and the one billion who lack access to clean water.
A little history
Engineers Without Borders was created to lend a hand to people in developing communities. No blindly throwing money at difficult situations, hoping they’ll go away. It’s all about giving people access to skills, knowledge and attitudes that will improve their lives.
The organization also believes in rolling up their collective sleeves and going where the need is greatest. Over 500 EWB volunteers operate in Sub-Saharan Africa. In countries like Malawi, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Zambia, they use the power of engineering to provide sustainable access to clean water, generate income in the agricultural sector, and improve access to services and infrastructure.
EWB McGill is one of 26 university Engineers Without Borders chapters across Canada, but they put their own unique spin on the organization’s guiding mission. Founded in 2001 by a handful of tireless McGill students, the chapter needs funds to maintain and expand a wide range of game-changing initiatives, such as:
- Their junior fellowship program that sends a couple of interns to Africa every summer;
- Weekly learning sessions that aim to increase development knowledge among EWBers through workshops, debates, panel discussions and more;
- Public outreach initiatives that raise awareness at McGill and across Montreal about key development issues, including fair trade products, and;
- Their school outreach program, where members visit local schools to introduce development issues to the next generation of irrigation experts and sanitation sages.
These are just a few of the ways EWB McGill is literally giving people the tools to build a better tomorrow. They’re always lending a hand; why not return the favour? Visit seedsofchange.mcgill.ca after March 15, 2010 to learn more.