Karibu! Welcome!

Since 2004, EWB@ MSU's professional and student volunteers have worked with community members in Khwisero, Kenya to provide water and sanitation infrastructure at the district's 58 primary schools, making it easier for Khwisero's children to avoid waterborne disease and get an education.

In that time, the group has grown from a small club to one of MSU's premier student organizations, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund seven borehole wells, six composting latrines and a biogas latrine that serve thousands of community members.

Thank you for joining us as we continue to work hand-in-hand with local partners to make a difference in one small part of our world. As Western Kenya's limited internet access allows, we will update this blog while in-country with the successes, stories and lessons provided by our work.

Friday, January 1, 2010

We Are Students

During the course of a community meeting the other day, I found myself sitting at a table with Jackson and several middle-aged Kenyan men, surrounded by an audience of 20-odd community members, my other teammates, and a couple of members from our regional management board.

The utter absurdity of the situation hit me as I rambled through a list of points explaining our plans and expectations for the coming months. There I was, a 20-year-old college student with three semesters of a civil engineering degree under his belt, being taken seriously as a technical consultant by an African community. In that context, the fact that I was outlining a project that could change several thousand lives seemed almost inconsequential.

The only thing crazier than that, I think, is that our team in Kenya and organization back home really does have the talent and resources to make this happen. Sure, this project is going to cost tens of thousands of dollars before we’re through, but we can raise the money (and a grant we’re in the process of securing from the Kenyan Government is certainly going to help). Sure, we don’t yet know nearly enough about how to design and build our system, but we can find people in both Bozeman and Kenya who do. Sure, we’re not entirely sure how well the often-competitive schools will be able to put aside their differences and work together to manage the project, but we’ve got some of the most talented people I’ve ever met—Kenyan and American—working to make this socially sustainable.

And, most importantly, after giving it our best shot, we’ll be coming back to Khwisero in the coming years to fix our mistakes, and build on our successes.

And that, I think, is the essence of what we’re doing here in this wonderful place that’s starting to feel like a home. It’s that attitude and approach that’s let a group of college students from a school in Montana change a small part of the world over the past several years, and that perspective that will take us toward whatever success we, and the Khwisero community, will bring to our future.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's great to hear that the community meetings are going well. It sounds like both the EWB students and Kenyans are listening to each other and recognizing each other's skills. Excellent!