Spring Break – Engineers for Community Service

Devin B., MSE sophomore –
P3020555 During my spring break this year I traveled to Honduras as a part of an engineering community service learning project through OSU. The course involved a preparatory class that met once a week throughout Winter quarter and a seven-day trip to the orphanage Montana de Luz in Honduras over spring break. During the class, I helped design a few water-related projects that would be implemented during our stay. I was so glad to see that engineers can be valuabally deployed to developing countries to help create a lasting impact and contribute significantly to the betterment of the lives of people living there. I used to think that you had to have a medical degree to make any sort of difference but my beliefs have been largely dismissed.

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I made a lot of great friends during that week that I hope to keep in contact with for the rest of my schooling and beyond. It was definitely an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life and one that hopefully will leave the impoverished country of Honduras just a little better off.   Interested in participating in a trip like this?  Visit the Engineers for Community Service website http://www.ecos.osu.edu.  You can also read more about the specifics of the our work  during Spring Break 2009 here: http://ecos4mdl.pbwiki.com.

Here is one of my journal entries from the trip…
Entry from 3/25/09 – Day 4

Re-labeling washing machines in español will help save water and energy.

Re-labeling washing machine in español will help save water and energy.

Today I woke up to Viki’s wonderful voice telling us it was 6:30 and time to rise and shine. I forgot how much I hate mornings this past winter quarter because my classes started so late in the day. I should probably have gone to bed earlier in the evening last night but I was having too much fun talking with everyone. I had a difficult time waking myself up throughout the day. I think I may have had like 3 cups of “extra fuerte” coffee today. For basically the whole day I was working with Katie, which was cool because I got to know her a lot better. We spent a lot of time studying the previous reports from years gone by, trying to figure out what we could say to the water board of Nueva Esperanza. We had suspicions that they were not chlorinating their water and we wanted to talk with them about it. We also wanted to speak with Saoul and Dario about the water filter cartridges and how to buy new ones when the old ones were worn out. We legitimately studied all morning in preparation.

After lunch, we had a hard time getting back to work it was so hot. We wandered around the orphanage updating a map of the system for both grey and potable water systems. We began to become pretty aimless in our efforts so we decided to have out the meeting with Dario and Saoul. Viki was in the office at the time also so we inviter her to join us too. The whole meeting was in Spanish which really stretched my understanding. I got lost a few times in the conversation but chose not to say anything. We definitely got the message across of how important the cartridge changes were. Saoul and Dario both were 100% on board for buying the cartridges and keeping a schedule so they would not be forgotten. In my mind it was a very productive meeting.P2230071

Later, Katie and I were supposed to meet with the water board of Nueva Esperanza at about 4:00. It was definitely a late meeting for Honduran time and I was surprised they agreed to come up to Montana de Luz. I had a very hard time working up the courage to speak any Spanish to them but I forced myself to ask questions when I couldn’t understand.

It was interesting to see the “politics” of the relationship between MdL and the community. Development work is way more difficult and complex than I realized. The people don’t have the money for an automated chlorination system but they also don’t want to pay for the water they receive. The water board is also not a very well respected establishment due to the previous members and their lax attitudes about the town’s needs. It’s a mess. Katie and I both talked about how we would love to come and spend some time just with Nueva Esperanza this summer.

It was good to hear from the meeting that the water for the town is chlorinated and potable. We have a meeting at 9AM with Javier, the town “water boy”. I’m also very glad I got to speak with Luis, a town local who is about 23 and speaks English very well. I wish I could have spoken with him in Spanish as well but I don’t think I could ever get to talk to him one on one. Its also probably more helpful that he gets to practice his English than me my Spanish. Im supposed to run with Liz, the orphanage’s gringa physical education teacher, at 6:00 AM so I’m going to catch some z’s.


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