by Zineb Bouizy, Secretary, Engineers Without Borders-CCNY Chapter
I come from a poor family in Morocco. When I came to the US six years ago, I came alone and did not know any English. I started working full-time to support myself and help my family back in Morocco, and began to pursue my dream of becoming a civil engineer. It was my experience struggling to get the basic necessities in my hometown that led me to engineering as a professional path, and fortunately, I made my way into the Grove School of Engineering at City College. My personal experience is also what drove me to become involved with Engineers Without Borders (EWB), a humanitarian organization that supports the design and implementation of community-driven, sustainable engineering projects worldwide.
I was introduced to EWB last spring. I was touched to the core by their work, and knew immediately that it was exactly what I wanted to do. In the beginning, I worried about living up to expectations and taking on such responsibility, but members of the EWB executive-board and other members helped me overcome that fear. They made feel welcome and encouraged me to get involved. Soon, I decided to run in the board election for the secretary position. By taking a position on the executive board, I knew it would ensure my continued commitment and involvement.
Everyone on our board is committed to taking EWB to the next level. Our water-distribution project in the Honduras was our first major initiative, which we planned on implementing last year. However, because of the potential dangers involved, our sponsors could not approve the trip as planned. Now we are ready to embark on a new project in Eyek, Cameroon. The project is a partnership with deserving community of a population of about 1000 people in Eyek to build a very much-needed community center. This community center will house a potable water system, market stalls for farmers to sell their produce, and also a small medical dispensary. The center will also be a place for young people to learn trade skills, while providing EWB students skill-building opportunities in several engineering disciplines, including civil, mechanical, environmental, and electrical.
We know that we need adequate funding to carry out our mission, and this can only happen by the support and the help of contributors who support EWB's mission. EWB commits to community partnerships for a period lasting at least five years, making sure to not only construct a sustainable project, but also maintain the project and educate the community about it.
On May 1 we are hosting the EWB-USA CCNY First Annual Fundraising Reception and Dinner at the Rio II gallery in Harlem ,from 6-10 PM. Our goal is to help raise awareness about what we do and raise enough funds to be able to pursue our project in Cameroon.
Of course, as important as it is to do this work overseas, we also need to help our community here. So, EWB has also given me the chance to coordinate volunteering events here in the city, including rebuilding abandoned homes and homes destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.
I’m very committed to this organization, therefore, I see myself being involved for a long time. Perhaps one day, I will be able to help a community back in Morocco.