Friday, 20 July 2007

"Learning" in Toronto

Hi Everyone,

I write to you today sitting in the EWB house in Toronto. I have been here for the past couple of weeks participating in EWB's month long intensive "learning" program.

Photo: Levi busy at the blackboard

There are 9 of us living and learning together at the moment. We hail from various parts of the country, from BC to Quebec, with one genuine Frenchman in our midst. We come from a range of backgrounds and experience; there are a few fresh grads like myself, one from industry, a few from consulting, an academic, and an elementary school french teacher. We're all heading to one of the 4 countries in which EWB currently works: Malawi (the coolest of the 4), Zambia, Ghana, and Burkina Faso.

The 9 of us live in the EWB house with 4 National Office interns. It is surprisingly manageable! On our first weekend we got kicked out of the house and shipped off camping to clear out some space for the 25ish Professional Chapter exec members that were here for their annual meeting, so the place is practically empty in comparison! Here's a photo from our camping trip at Emily Provincial Park:

From Left to right: Alanna (Burkina Faso), Me (Malawi), Simon (Burkina Faso), Trevor (Ghana), Heather's forehead (Malawi), Melissa (past volunteer), Boris (Ghana), Levi (our fearless leader - otherwise known as the Director of Overseas Programs), Sarah (Ghana), Thulasy (Zambia), Jason (past Volunteer).

and here's a whole album of the weekend

We have covered a wide range of topics during our learning sessions, ranging from basic development theory to health and safety issues.

The sessions are pretty intense, but we take time out of our busy days for the occasional yoga or hand stand session.

I'm leaving in less than two weeks . . . CRAZY! I'll post more about the joys of "learning" soon.


Thursday, 19 July 2007


Welcome to my Blog!

I begin my foray into the blogosphere with this first post, coming to you from the EWB training house in sunny Toronto, Canada.

I suppose I should start with a bit of an overview to bring you up to speed on just what the heck I’m doing here anyway!


I recently graduated from Environmental Civil Engineering at the University of Waterloo. After five years alternating between school and a smattering of different co-op terms I’m about ready to move on to the next phase of my life!


A 13 month overseas placement in Malawi with Engineers Without Borders Canada.

Here’s a bit about EWB’s approach overseas:

“At first glance, the role of western engineers in development may appear to be the identification of solutions, followed by a trip overseas to implement them. Often this takes the form of drilling a well, building a school, or installing a new technology developed in western labs.

EWB believes that sustainable development requires more than the simple installation of technologies however. To have the greatest impact overseas we focus on building capacity rather than the delivery of technological goods.

Our volunteers work in partnership with local organisations that are already helping communities gain access to appropriate technologies. By strengthening the extent and effectiveness of the organisation's response, EWB is helping them become better at helping communities.”

I’m going to be working with a local NGO called “Total Landcare” based out of Lilongwe, Malawi.

TLC is a local Malawian NGO working to increase production and income levels of small-scale Malawian farmers through improved agricultural practices with sustained conservation and management of the natural resource base.


Malawi is located in south eastern Africa. It is a landlocked country situation between Zambia, Mozambique, and Tanzania. The Great Rift Valley runs through the country from north to south, and in this trough lies Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa.

Malawi is among the world's poorest countries. High population density, rapid population growth, and erosion due poor land management practices is resulting in severe pressure on the agricultural industry, which employs the vast majority of the population.

The tourist sites refer to Malawi as the “Warm Heart of Africa.” I look forward to being your connection to this part of the world over the next year!