To support their international and local endeavors to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of struggling communities, a group of dedicated UCSB students are hosting a golf tournament scheduled to take place May 1 at Hidden Oaks Golf Course. The UCSB chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) – a national, 1,200-member organization – hopes the event will give a much-needed boost to its efforts in impoverished communities such as Luanda, Kenya, where a project is already underway to create a rainwater catchment system to bring clean water to its people.
Such projects cost a great deal of money. EWB’s Julia Shimizu said that the first trip to Kenya has a proposed budget of $35,000 for equipment and in-country labor, and there will be several less expensive follow-up trips. Though EWB receives significant support from many UCSB professors and organizations, including the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, funding is still a major issue. “This year we wanted to broaden our donor base through the golf tournament,” Shimizu said. “Our goal is to reach out to businesses in the area to let them know what we do and engage them in our work.”
She added that because of the sluggish economy, EWB will most likely break even on the tournament unless they have a last-minute sponsor.
According to EWB members, the goal of the organization is to find and apply long-term solutions. “Instead of giving away technologies, we work with villages to find a technology that they can understand, afford, and upkeep on their own,” said EWB’s Kymberly Kline. “We emphasize education, teaching the whole community, young and old, about the technologies and how they will affect the community in a positive way.”
The UCSB chapter of EWB, which consists mainly of university students, faculty, and staff, won EWB-USA’s Educational Achievement Award in 2008 for a project in Peru to install systems for water filtration and water recycling in a small village.
Kline added, “Besides helping people meet their basic needs with simple technologies, we empower people to live the lives they want to live.”
Visit the group’s Web site for more information about the tournament and other EWB projects.