Engineers helping Haiti

April 1, 2010
I was interested to read your comments regarding Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and their involvement in Haiti. Talking about American relief efforts

I was interested to read your comments regarding Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and their involvement in Haiti. Talking about American relief efforts in other countries is an important discussion, and one that I've promoted through work with MedAir, RedR, and EWB-USA.

There may be some confusion regarding the mission of EWB-USA, due to the similarity of its name to Doctors Without Borders, an organization that engages in emergency and disaster relief. EWB-USA is engaged in sustainable development and working on community and infrastructure needs, and is not a relief organization per se. Some of our community-partnering projects are located in Haiti, and at the time of the earthquake, EWB had at least one team on the ground there, at a location unaffected by the earthquake. That team experienced difficulty exiting Haiti because the main airport was initially closed, but they completed what they set out to do, and have now safely returned to the USA.

That said, EWB-USA strongly supports emergency and disaster relief efforts of sister organizations including the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, AIDG (Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group), and the collective partnering of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) under HaitiVoices. Also, certain chapters (see www.ewbportland.org) are finding ways of addressing food aid and sanitation issues in areas (Les Cayes and Les Anglais) not currently serviced by NGOs. With community engagement that has preceded the earthquake by some years, EWB will likely be in Haiti long after others have left, hopefully bringing about change where it is so desperately needed.
Dirk Bouma, PE
Kensington, Md.
Chair, Southeast Technical
Advisory Committee
Engineers Without Borders USA

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