President's Report 2006 | Community

Student creates legacy

EWB member Laura-Beth Power serves fair trade coffee to Cheryl Staubitzer

Ed Martin logged a busy year. Aside from successfully completing a mechanical engineering degree, the energetic student leader not only helped launch one of the most active groups on the St. John's campus but he also headed off on a year-long trip volunteering in Zambia.

Mr. Martin was one of the driving forces behind Memorial's chapter of Engineers Without Borders, an organization that helps fight poverty in developing countries. Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB) is a leading charitable organization dedicated to reducing world poverty by promoting human development through access to technology. Their slogan is: Because technology can drive extraordinary change. Mr. Martin took on the challenge of getting EWB off the ground at Memorial as part of a work term a little over a year ago. At the time, he never thought travelling to a developing country was part of his future; he was more inclined to help out on this side of the globe. But now he's in the midst of volunteering in a foreign country. He described it as one of the most challenging experiences of his life and one he was excited to accept.

In the past four years, EWB has sent more than 70 young Canadian engineers to work on 35 projects in 20 countries. Closer to home, their 6,000 members across the country strive to make Canada the most development-friendly and sustainable country in the world.

Mr. Martin said the majority of the placements are in Africa. In 2005, Canadian students were sent to East Timor, Ghana, Tanzania, Lesotho, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Benin, Cambodia, Madagascar, Cameroon, Nepal, Indonesia and the Philippines.

This year, Mr. Martin departed for Zambia.

He said the biggest challenge he and other members of Engineers Without Borders face is showing people that they can make a difference. "Most people agree with the cause and ideals that Engineers Without Borders is based upon and recognize that there are serious poverty-related problems in this world, but they don't feel like they can do anything about it," said Mr. Martin, the outgoing president of Memorial's EWB. "It's our job to let people know that they can be a big part of doing great things by getting involved with Engineers Without Borders."

Meanwhile, before he left for Zambia, Mr. Martin and others promoted their new group. And, they managed to get lots of attention. In November, they hosted a popular event called Beat the Crap Out of Poverty. Participants were given a chance to literally "beat the crap out of poverty" by smashing a car adorned with words that represent the global problems of poverty and hunger.

In June, members figured out yet another unique way to help underprivileged people. They started a fair trade coffee club in the lobby of the S.J. Carew Building which ran each weekday.

All their hard work paid off when the group co-shared the MUN Volunteer Club/Society award at the 20th annual MUN Volunteer Days this past March.