Edinburgh students engineer change in Ghana
This blog was written by Rebecca Murphy Lonergan, President of Edinburgh Sustainable Projects Abroad
Can you imagine a day where you have nothing to drink? A day where you can’t take a shower, cook dinner on a stove or even go to the bathroom? Well, neither could the engineering students at Edinburgh Sustainable Projects Abroad, who have launched a new mission for 2019, to fund public health initiatives in the Ekumfi district of Ghana that will improve health in the community and prevent the spread of disease.
^ Students volunteer alongside local engineers and construction workers to build basic infrastructure that will reduce the spread of disease and save lives.
The student society Edinburgh Sustainable Projects Abroad (ESPA) at the University of Edinburgh works in partnership with the charity Global Brigades UK to empower communities in Central America and Africa to resolve health inequalities and escape poverty. Since 2015, Edinburgh students have travelled overseas to communities with Global Brigades to volunteer staffing medical clinics, dentists, pharmacies and legal aid workshops to measurably develop a community and improve outcomes for its citizens.
To ensure all work is sustainable and ethical, Global Brigades employs a unique holistic model that assesses the current needs of a community and takes tangible steps to address them. This model was created in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and encompasses the need for long-term investment in infrastructure, education and economic development in order to sustainably improve health and reduce poverty.
^ The holistic model of development designed by Global Brigades to empower communities to sustainably escape poverty and improve lives.
As such, ESPA is expanding this year to run a new Public Health themed brigade to Ghana in June of this year. A group of engineering students has already started preparations for the trip – over the next few months, they will design public health projects to address the specific needs of the communities they will be working with and raise the funds needed to implement them. These include water irrigation systems, to bring fresh, clean water from its source to the heart of the community; sanitation stations, ingeniously designed to serve as toilets, showers, clothes washing facilities and water storage units; and eco stoves, which replace the need to burn dangerous chemicals and irritants inside homes. Over a week in the summer, these same students will get the chance to travel to the communities and work alongside local professionals to construct their projects and gain an insight into the ongoing work carried out by Global Brigades all year round.
Additionally, in conjunction with SDG 4 – Quality Education, volunteers will run education seminars for local children about the importance of good hygiene and sanitation for health, the signs and symptoms of common illness and how to appropriately manage them. Likewise, Global Brigades helps establish local committees within the community who will take responsibility for ensuring the sustainability of projects and continuing the education of the community, whilst gaining new skills and assuming leadership roles.
^ Community teams are essential for sustaining the improvements introduced by Global Brigades and provide community members with exciting training and employment opportunities.
ESPA is currently the largest student group in the UK working with Global Brigades and the only active volunteer chapter in Scotland, sending around 50 students on a life-changing mission every year.
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