Engineering change around the world
by Marion Van Driel
Two recent graduates and one current student of UBC’s Engineering Program spent part of their summer bringing hope to specific communities scattered across the globe. Volunteering with Engineering Ministries International (EMI), Emma Brown, Luke Lee and Herman Wong served as interns on teams using their engineering skills on projects to improve the health, education and spiritual welfare of thousands who live in poverty. They worked alongside mentors with significant field experience.
EMI Canada, a non-profit Christian development organization, brings together teams of architects, engineers, surveyors, building technicians and other design professionals for short-term projects worldwide. EMI receives applications for projects in developing countries, working with indigenous groups and on-the-ground mission organizations in the design and planning stages. Occasionally, a construction manager will be sent to help manage a larger, more complex project.
Multi-purpose building in Haiti
Civil engineer Emma Brown from North Delta served as an EMI intern, travelling to Grand-Goâve, Haiti with a team who brought the existing schematic of a building to be used as a church, school and conference centre. Brown’s team was responsible for developing the detailed new plan for the building. The client, Haiti ARISE, has a vision to strengthen families, communities and their nation by raising up Godly leaders to bring about positive change spiritually and economically. This centre will educate K-12, and will provide worship and conference space for the growing church.
A major part of Brown’s task was formulating the report of the team’s work during their 10-day stay. One huge advantage, says Brown, was sitting down with the engineers, architects, and surveyors – the whole team in one room – to discuss the project without emails going back and forth, waiting for answers, as often happens in the corporate world. For her, this collaboration gave a broader perspective of what the project process is like.
“Just the fact of being in Haiti was way better than being anywhere else,” Brown shares. “…even being in an unfamiliar environment, being pushed out of my comfort zone, knowing this was right where God wanted me, I had such incredible peace the whole time.”
An unexpected privileged for Brown was to visit other ministries working in the area. She noted, “even though each ministry may have a different target demographic and a different style of what they’re doing and what they teach, they all just have such a heart for the people – not only for bringing them closer to God, but for equipping them to live life better.”
Hospital in Northern Ghana
Engineering student Herman Wong from Richmond worked on a team helping to make the vision of a local hospital a reality. The Carpenter Hospital in northern Ghana will serve several hundred thousand people in surrounding villages and rural areas.
A group of Ghanaian Christian High School students came together in the 1970s with a vision to improve the lives of the people in northern Ghana, using whatever skills they could offer. As they gained professional skills, their determination grew into a vision caught by a group of Canadians in the 1980s. Wong helped design and plan The Carpenter Hospital, which is a culmination of those decades of dreaming and working to improve health in this area.
Currently, Canadian medical personnel visit Ghana in two-week stints, attending to the medical needs of 10,000 people. The Carpenter Hospital will ultimately provide much-needed facilities for cases requiring hospitalization.
New Church in Pijal, Ecuador
Surrey resident Luke Lee, also a recent UBC grad, served as an intern with EMI in Pijal, Ecuador, working on plans for a new church. The growing “New Jerusalem” Alliance Church has outgrown their existing building, and needs more meeting rooms and an auditorium to help provide educational training and a larger worship and fellowship area. The church in Pijal is instrumental in meeting not only spiritual needs of the rural agricultural community of indigenous Kichwa Indians, it also helps with economic growth through the skills training in the building.
Lee says in the beginning, he was quite anxious about his ability to help on the project, since he has little ‘real world’ experience. He found out later that many of the team members had similar anxieties. Lee says the team found God provided in amazing ways, bringing together the right people who complemented each other.
Lee, who was in Pijal for 10 days, says, “It was amazing to be able to worship together with the local congregation, even though we come from different cultural backgrounds and speak a different language, because we worship the same God who brought us together to worship Him as one big family.”