Engineers Without Borders Sierra Leone (EWB-SL) is a national NGO of professionals and student volunteers with a range of technical skills and backgrounds. The organisation were established in 2005 to collaborate with developing communities within and beyond Sierra Leone in order to improve their quality of life through implementation of environmentally sustainable, equitable and economical engineering projects.
“Our volunteers helps improving our capacity as a local non-governmental organisation. It gives room for more humanitarian aid and the ideas of expatriates will help in developing the human index and development of our country in whole,” says Emmanuel Mbayoh, project manager in EWB-SL.
In order for EWB-SL to collaborate with developing communities and contribute with technical knowledge and experiences in the projects, they promotes the development of globally aware and internationally responsible engineers, students and others professionals in close collaboration with its partner organisations nationally and internationally.
For four months, 33-year-old Klaus Svenstrup Jensen from Denmark worked as a volunteer with EWB-SL after he was chosen for an Internship for EWB-SLs partner organisation, Engineers Without Borders Denmark (EWB-DK). As an intern, Klaus worked on a project to provide safe and reliable water supply for rural domestic use, provided from hand dug wells or drilled wells powered by solar energy.
“As a marine engineer, I have a technical knowledge and understanding of how technical installations works together, including pumps, electricity and electronics that I could contribute with when working for EWB-SL. It was also beneficial to have had some strength training so that I could see if what was being built was also stable,” says Klaus Svenstrup Jensen, intern for EWB-DK in Sierra Leone.
In order for EWB-SL to help, the local community’s volunteers are key people. They contribute with their technical skills and knowledge and work in close collaboration with the communities. Augustine Chokpelleh has been a volunteer at EWB-SL for five years:
“As a volunteer I have expanded my knowledge as a solar-technician and at the same time learned a lot about community development. I have learned how to build capacity of less privileged people, how to approach the community to take lead in terms of community development and how to help the organisation to achieve their goal”, says Augustine.
As a volunteer, you both contribute with your professional skills and experiences and develop your own knowledge and network within the field of development projects:
“Being a volunteer has helped me strengthen my professional skills and personal growth in enhance my career and have created opportunities for me by meeting new people, including community leaders. I have developed lifelong personal and professional relationships which have maintained in the past years as a volunteer”, explains Am Elkanah Sao Amadu, who has been a EWB-SL volunteer for six years.
“As part of my field of studies as a developmentalist I am very proud working with EWB-SL as a volunteer. I find it incredibly satisfying to act in a way that is consistent with my principles. Being able to say I changed something in the world, in the lives of others, gives meaning to be here beyond simply looking after myself. For me, it changes my life from being purely self-centred to being something with meaning for others to learn from my experiences”, says Am Elkanah Sao Amadu.
Early 2018, EWB-SL joined the multi-partner capacity development project EU Aid Volunteers Initiative, together with Scandinavian EWB’s, Emergency Architecture & Human Rights and partners in Nepal and Tanzania. The purpose of the project is to enhance quality and capacity of the volunteer management and hence increase the amount of future development of volunteers.
“The positive outcome of the EU Aid Volunteer Initiative will be additional support on our Capacity building and coordination and hopefully create an even more fruitful collaboration with other international partnerships”, says says Emmanuel Mbayoh.
EWB-DK has worked for establishing access to clean drinking water after the severe flood and mudslide in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone in august 2017