Passion and commitment, they say, are two inseparable items that drive people to take steps that defy that status quo.
This is the story of Ali Molaro, a third-year environmental systems engineering student who is volunteering with Engineers Without Borders overseas project in Malawi this summer.
The University of Regina student will be joining at least 30 other junior fellows from other EWB chapters across Canada. They’ll be working in EWB’s water and sanitation project in Malawi from May to August of this year.
An anxious Molaro said that what motivated her action is the fact that she was going to help people living in Malawi. “When I think about and hear about the type of lifestyle I will have in Malawi, it makes me even more anxious to go. I can’t wait to meet the family I will be living with and the co-workers I will work with. I’m almost already sad about the fact that I will only get to spend four months with them.”
Molaro has being involved with EWB chapter at U of R since her first year and has served as director of fundraising, director of chapter – Africa connection, director of member learning, and VP Internal. Her long involvement with EWB has given her the awareness of the organization’s vision and the kind of work it does. But she feels that going to be a part of the actual work overseas will provide a higher level of understanding for her.
“For me, I understand what EWB’s approach is and why, but I need to really feel and experience the overseas part of our programs so that I can better communicate it to people in Regina.”
Lucky for Molaro, she will be working in an area closely related to her field of study, “I’m very excited. I now know that I will be working in the Water and Sanitation Sector in Malawi. I’m interested in what the team is working on with data-based decision making and increase in user demand for safe water and sanitation. I think that I have lots of ideas to offer and I’m anxious to get started. I will get the opportunity to apply my job skills to a project or jobsite that has the potential to create lasting change.”
This experience will also be part of a learning process for her. Molaro hopes that her contributions will help. “I'm also anxious to understand the relationship between the work that EWB is doing and the effects felt in the countries we work in. In theory, I know that everything that is being done overseas is done with the hope that our efforts are providing opportunities for people living in poverty to overcome it. I really would like to see and understand that from my own point of view.”
While she is excited, she also knows that her individual efforts won’t yield results alone.
“I am one person, who is part of a giant movement of people, who are actively trying to create some sort of change in the world. I would say that my trip is a very small drop of water in a giant ocean of change for the world. I’ll only be living in Malawi for four months and that is a very short time to do anything life changing. Alone, my four months in Africa isn’t going to change any lives. My presence there won’t ‘save’ anyone. I’m not there to throw around money or build schools or adopt babies.”
However, she derives fulfilment from the fact that she is doing her bit to a movement that is causing international development.
“I really support EWB. I think that EWB is creating change in the world. I know that when I go overseas with EWB I will be contributing my small part to the success of the EWB projects and will ultimately be contributing international development.”
Like George Roter, the CEO of Engineers Without Borders, says, “So much is expected of our junior fellows.” Molaro understands this, and wants to make the most out of her trip.
“I have asked myself these questions over and over: ‘Why am I going to Africa? What will I actually do? What does EWB actually do?’”