By: Maureen Connelly
Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is an organization that creates sustainable engineering solutions for communities in need across the globe. My EWB story begins in the Gulu District of Northern Uganda.
As a member of the Notre Dame chapter of EWB for 3 years, I have become very passionate about their mission, and want to do my part to contribute to their growth and influence. After learning about the involvement of Notre Dame Global Development with Battery Operated Systems for Community Outreach-Uganda (BOSCO-Uganda), I knew the communities in Gulu would benefit from the introduction of an EWB program as well.
The purpose of my travel was to identify problems faced by the community, and assist with the community-submitted application to become an official EWB program.
Through collaboration with Akiteng Stella (Project Coordinator for BOSCO-Uganda) we found the Coope Information ICT center fit the criteria for a successful program. The Coope community has struggled since 2007 to keep a permanent residence for their ICT center, but have been donated land for such a purpose. With support from EWB, and collaboration with the Bardege ICT for Education & Research Centre-Bardege Division, Tam Pi Diki Child & Youth Support Organization in Bungatira Sub County, and the Acholi Muslim District-Layibi Division, the community will be able to construct a permanent center on this land.
This ICT center will be open to all members of the communities to learn basic ICT skills (such as internet, Microsoft Office, and other computer software). It will also act as a central point for livelihood activities for the community, and will be a vital resource to mobilize the youth in the area and encourage them to become social advocates for themselves.
One of the most important aspects of EWB is sustainability. To this extent, all programs must be largely community driven to ensure success and future development. The Coope community has proven their determination for this project, and I am excited to see the benefits this new ICT building will bring for them in years to come.
I am very excited that I will be able to leave after my short 10-day trip having helped to complete and submit their application. Upon approval by EWB, the program will be open for a chapter to adopt, and collaborative efforts will begin between BOSCO-Uganda, EWB, and the Coope community.
This project will enhance the lives of this community, and I am very glad that EWB will be able to assist them with their future development.
For more information on the Coope community and/or Engineers Without Borders please visit the following sites: http://coope-information-centre.bosco-uganda.wikispaces.net/ ; www.ewb-usa.org
(Special thanks to Father Joe and the BOSCO-Uganda staff, Akiteng Stella, Patrick Murphy from Notre Dame Global Development, and the Notre Dame College of Engineering for making this trip possible)