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Help Engineers Without Borders Provide Safe Drinking Water for Thousands of Africans!

Engineers without Borders with Kenyan villagers

Trip to Kenya, January 2016

Ghanan children carry water photographed by Engineers without Borders in Ghana 2015

Trip to Ghana, May 2015

Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is one of the most noteworthy and commendable organizations on campus, a sort of Peace Corps for engineers in which the student members travel to disadvantaged countries and apply their education to improve the quality of life of local residents. Now you can become a virtual member of the UMass Amherst chapter of EWB by helping to fund wells in Kenya and Ghana that will deliver safe drinking water to many thousands of subsistence farmers who struggle for survival in some of the world’s most challenging environments.

Your window of opportunity to help opens on April 11, when the UMass Amherst EWB is kicking off a MinuteFund crowd-funding campaign.

The fundraising campaign will support two long-needed wells in Kenya and Ghana, to be drilled sometime in 2016 or early 2017. EWB estimates the cost of drilling the two wells at $35,000, which is the fundraising goal.

In Kenya, where the UMass EWB has been working for more than a decade, a team has identified the urgent need for a well in the community of Nguluni, some two hours east of Nairobi. Currently, there is a rainwater catchment system at the local primary school, however it does not collect nearly enough for the community, made up mainly of hard-working subsistence farmers. The community believes that, in addition to the rainwater catchment system, adding a borehole would be vastly beneficial to the area. A hydrogeologist has identified a promising borehole location in Nguluni, so now efforts focus on fundraising for the new well to provide water to over 800 students and the 5000-member community.

In May of 2015, a team of three students and two professional mentors from the UMass Amherst Ghana Program went on the first of two assessment trips to the village of Saviefe-Deme. The second assessment trip is planned for May of 2016. As expected, significant amounts of data show that a water-quality and supply problem exists in Saviefe-Deme. During the dry season, the wells in the village are unable to keep up with demand and run dry. This May, the travel team will perform hydrogeological and geophysical tests to find a good location that will produce a high-yielding borehole.

Both the Kenya and Ghana Programs are doing incredibly valuable projects for a remarkably cost-effective price. In a world full of strife, hatred, and warfare, these projects represent not only large rays of hope, but also prototypes for how engineers can make Planet Earth a better place for everyone.

The EWB students have formed a committee, headed by Cheryl Brooks and Jim Tibbitt, to raise the estimated $35,000 for the two boreholes.

To start that fundraising effort, on April 11 the students will be kicking off a MinuteFund crowd-funding campaign to support the EWB boreholes. If you’re unfamiliar with the MinuteFund, it’s like a Kickstarter but run by the university itself, and 100 percent of each donation goes directly towards EWB.

As EWB says, “This is where YOU can make a difference to our mission. We are looking for individuals or companies who would be able to sponsor a special 24-hour MinuteFund Matching Gift Challenge!”

The Matching Gift Challenge will be launched on the third week of the EWB MinuteFund campaign with an email blast to all College of Engineering alumni. By sponsoring the challenge, your name or the name of your company will be advertised to approximately 20,000 alumni. A Matching Gift Sponsorship will match all gifts donated within a specific 24-hour period, not to exceed your Sponsorship gift level, matched 1:1 for all gifts up to $100 per donor.

The UMass Amherst EWB Corporate & Individual Matching Gift Challenge Sponsorship gift levels are: GOLD, $2500 and up; SILVER, $1500 to $2499; BRONZE, $1000 to $1499.

This is your big chance to help EWB’s admirable efforts and give back to a world that desperately needs your help!

Your participation as a Matching Gift Challenge Sponsor for the EWB MinuteFund is a very meaningful way to show your support in a very public way. If you have any questions on how you can participate as an EWB MinuteFund Matching Gift Sponsor, please email: Cheryl Brooks at brooks@ecs.umass.edu. Also check out Engineers Without Borders, University of Massachusetts Amherst at http://blogs.umass.edu/ewbumass/. (April 2016)