Kenex Sevilla is a volunteer with VEGA Member Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA). While this particular program was not funded through VEGA, this volunteer is in the VEGA network of more than 100,000 highly skilled volunteers. Below, Kenex talks about his experiences volunteering in Central America.
“In 2013, as part of the George Mason University student organization Mason Engineers for International Development (EfID), I returned to my home country, Nicaragua. In a community thirty minutes from where I grew up, where they have to walk half a mile up to the well with buckets, I helped provide a new water supply and distribution system. After an assessment trip, we planned and designed a self-reliant, sustainable distribution system customized for the community’s conditions.
“In phase one of the project, we installed a 200-foot well with a submersible pump, a pressure tank, 1,500 linear feet of pipeline, and six water stations throughout the community of 140 people and 30 households. In order to make the system sustainable, an 800-watt solar array was set up to power the submersible pump. In phase two, we installed an additional two miles of pipeline, 30 new water stations, extended the water system to every house and the elementary school, as well as introduced an elevated, 10,000 liter storage tank.
“Currently, I am working with Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) Northern Virginia Professional Chapter on a project in Honduras that will provide a water distribution system to the community of El Sauce in Villanueva, Cortes. The community has 500 members, more than 70 households, and several community centers that are in need of a water system. Our plan includes the installation of a new water well and a complete replacement of the existing low-quality water lines that were fed from three natural springs that are now dry. I am looking forward to traveling to Honduras to begin the first steps of bringing clean water to El Sauce.
“The most rewarding part of my volunteering has been experiencing the appreciativeness of the community members whose lives are improved. Being an engineer comes with a civic responsibility, which is why I think participating in organizations like EWB-USA is so important. Since 2002, EWB-USA members have impacted more than 2.5 million lives. I am proud to say I am a part of this global transformation.”