Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

2010 May

News and Updates from our Chapter

31 May


EWB-GR Presents Al Lukas: Live For Africa

May 31, 2010 | By |

In support of Grand River-EWB’s fundraising efforts for our African programs volunteers this year, we are pleased to announce a great upcoming live music event! Noted local blues musician Al Lukas will be putting on a show for us as we toast our 09/10 year end and send off our volunteers in style. Come join us for an evening of fun, cameradie, good music, and tasty snacks while supporting a great cause.

Al Lukas: Live for Africa

with Special Guest B.B. The King of the Blues Djembe

Wednesday June 23

8-11 pm (music starts at 8:30)

Rude Native Bistro |15 King St. S., Waterloo, ON
Tickets $15 or $20 at the door

Tickets are available from any EWB-GR member or by emailing All proceeds support Engineers Without Borders’ African programs. Donations will also be accepted at the event – charitable receipts are available for donations of $20 or more.

About Al Lukas: At 15, Al Lukas picked up his father’s guitar and never looked back. Some people make music for a living, some people make music for life. Al first jumped onto the music scene in Northern Ontario while playing flat-top guitar for Nothing in the Crib, a Bluegrass/Newgrass band.  Having been a member of the Canada South Blues Society, Mr. Lukas also has a strong following in Southern Ontario. Al is currently touring his second album, Fall & Flight… the album features Al’s original songs which reflect his beliefs:

“The world is living just as we are, and just as we are…it is ever changing….fall or flight, the choice is ours.” In the song Flying, he sings about the need for change; “I’m flying, flying across the land and I’m trying to see the bigger picture, the greater plan”. This song definitely tells a story, asking us not to change who we are, but to become who we are.

Thank you to our sponsor the Rude Native Bistro and Lounge.

For more information please contact

Note: this email address has been updated.  If you had previously contacted us for tickets and did not receive confirmation, please resubmit your request to the above address.

Rude Native Bistro |15 King St. S., Waterloo, ON

Tickets $15 or $20 at the door

All proceeds support Engineers Without Borders’ African programs. Donations will also be accepted at the event – charitable receipts are available for donations of $20 or more. For more information please contact

Thank you to our sponsor the Rude Native Bistro and Lounge. |

31 May


Support Grand River EWBers making a difference!

May 31, 2010 | By |

In West and Southern Africa, Engineers Without Borders is improving access to clean water and critical infrastructure, increasing farmers’ yields, and supporting business opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs. We invite you to participate in this exciting change, by connecting with and supporting the work of EWB Grand River volunteers in Africa.

More Grand River Members in Africa

As of Fall 2010, EWB-Grand River will have a record-breaking five members working as part of EWB-Canada’s African Programs teams in Sub-Saharan Africa. Don McMurtry and Mark Soares will be participating in the Professional Junior Fellowship Program, using a four month volunteer commitment to actively contribute their unique skill sets to our partner organizations in Africa, as well as  the Grand River Community and Work Places upon their return in December 2010.  Erin Antcliffe, Ben Best and Alyssa Lindsay will all be working as African Program Staff, having made long term (one or more year) commitments to their African volunteer positions.

More Opportunities to Connect and Contribute

EWB-Grand River’s increased volunteer support provides unique opportunities to connect with rural development efforts and better understand the challenges being faced by those living in poverty, for our membership and the Grand River community at large.   It also means that your support is needed more than ever before as our volunteers develop and carry out these exciting programs.

In addition to ongoing support of our African Partner Program, EWB-Grand River has set a fundraising goal of $3000 by August 2010 to meet our Professional Junior Fellowship fundraising targets.

We ask that you consider making an investment in the work of your Grand River colleagues, and  donate to support their work in building African capacity.  All contributions are welcome whether it’s $20, $50, or $500.

You can donate conveniently and securely through our Donation Page.

More Impact and Positive Change

Our membership has provided great people to contribute to some of the biggest challenges facing our world today, but they can’t do this without the support of their home community.  Your donation will ensure that our volunteers have the financial support they need to meet these challenges.

All of the funds raised by EWB- Grand River will be supporting the Rural Agriculture Programs in Ghana, where Engineers Without Borders is working in partnership with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to build the business capabilities of small scale rural farmers and increase innovation, production, and profits in the long-term. You can read more about the work that we are supporting by visiting our African Programs Page.

Thank you in advance for your generous contributions.


The Grand River Leadership Team, on behalf of our African Volunteers and Partners

25 May


Refugee Camp in the Heart of Waterloo

May 25, 2010 | By |

It’s no secret living in a refugee camp is hard, but some times the volume of news that whizzes by us on television, radio or the internet about these areas serves to desensitize us more than allow us to appreciate the conditions in which we live here at home. By reconstructing an actual refugee camp in Waterloo Public Square, Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders is hoping to raise awareness about the plight of the world’s 42 million refugees, and we’re invited.

Guided by MSF field staff, EWB-Grand River will be touring the camp on June 3 at 5:45pm where we will learn what it takes to survive in such a harsh and desparate environment where access to food, water, shelter and medical care is often uncertain.

The camp is comprised of actual equipment used by MSF in their worldwide efforts including emergency shelters, medical and food/water distribution facilities and might be the closest many of us can get to understanding what conditions are like in these camps.

To learn more about the event and camp installation, visit the Refugee Camp In The Heart Of The City website.

To RSVP for the EWB tour, please contact us as special provision will be made for our group should we have greater than 15 people. The tour is expected to last 45-60 minutes. Following the tour we will be conducting one of the last EWB-Grand River Planning Meetings before we break for the summer at the Barley Works (59 King St. N.) @ 7pm. RSVP for the Planning Meeting is not required and all attendees of the tour are invited but not expected to attend.

If you cannot join us on the tour but wish to investigate the camp yourself, the installation is open for free individual and drop in tours from June 3-6. This is your last opportunity to experience this unique event as the Waterloo camp represents the last of 4 legs on MSF’s Canadian tour.

25 May


EWB-Grand River Spring Planning Meeting

May 25, 2010 | By |

With an end to our 2009/10 year in sight and a number of campaigns and events scheduled in the next 40 days, June 3rd sounded like a great time to host an EWB-Grand River Planning Meeting!

Join us on June 3rd @ 7pm in the Barley Works (59 King St. N. in the Heuther Hotel) for lively discussion and coordination of what promises to be an exciting flourish to end our operating year.

As a teaser, here are just a few items on the agenda for discussion:

  • Summary of recent event successes with the Run To End Poverty and the Air & Waste Management Association
  • Our ongoing fundraising campaign for our Junior Fellow, Mark Soares (departing for Africa in August) and Learning Partner, Ben Best, (already in the field in Ghana)
  • EWB-Grand River Year-End & Year-Ahead Retreat
  • June Charity Concert (special musical guest and location to be announced)

And many others.

This meeting directly follows the EWB-Grand River tour of MSF’s Refugee Camp in the Heart of Waterloo, which runs from 5:45-6;45pm. Come to one or both of these events as your time permits. RSVP is not required for the Planning Meeting, but if you plan to attend the camp tour with us, please send us a quick note with your intentions.

Should you have any questions about the Planning Meeting or agenda items to contribute, please contact us.

24 May


Disrupting Philanthropy

May 24, 2010 | By |

Using social network technology effectively in social change activism

This week we’re continuing on from Working Wikily, the social change resources link posted a few weeks ago.  There’s an excellent new paper from the Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society (at the Sanford School of Public Policy of Duke University), describing how information technology is “Disrupting Philanthropy.“

Lucy Bernholz, Edward Skloot and Barry Varela “provide a guided tour through the marvels available today that not only did not exist a decade ago but could not have existed because the technology to make them possible had not been invented or adopted” (quoted from Noah Flower of Monitor Institute).

If your reading to-do list is overflowing, you might like to check out the Disrupting Philanthropy panel discussion, available on video on the Council of the Americas website.

19 May


Luminato: Toronto Festival of Arts + Creativity

May 19, 2010 | By |

The fabulously diverse 2010 Luminato festival, taking place June 11-20th in Toronto, includes many incredible ways to connect to, learn about, and celebrate Africa.

In theatre, the line-up includes The Africa Trilogy by Volcano Theatre.  This “powerful and innovative triple bill examines the multifaceted relationship between Africa and the West”.

One of the fascinating films being shown is Sembène: The Making of African Cinema, on June 12th. 

The musical offerings are truly spectacular, including Global Music: Rock the Casbah & An African Prom on June 12th.  The amazing Malian musician, Salif Keita, is the closing act in the free Global Blues concert on June 19th.  

Among the literature events being offered, African Literature sounds particularly intriguing.  “Reading from Dreams in a Time of War, 2009 Booker Prize nominee Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o shares memories of the Kenya of his childhood.  Nigerian politics and disaster capitalism are among the targets of Carole Enahoro’s satiric debut novel Doing Dangerously Well, while in Harare North, Brian Chikwava, winner of the 2004 Caine Prize, looks at the precarious lives of Zimbabwean refugees in London.” 

If you attend any of these events, we would enjoy hearing your comments!

16 May


The Rationale for Developing Global Competence

May 16, 2010 | By |

This week’s featured link is for a really good article in The Online Journal for Global Engineering Education.  

OJGEE “serves as a unique peer-reviewed research outlet for the cross-disciplinary and corporate constituencies involved in creating, maintaining, and growing global engineering education programs. An outgrowth of the annual Colloquium on International Engineering Education, the Online Journal for Global Engineering Education provides an academic forum to exchange ideas, find like-minded thinkers and researchers, foster new collaborations, and explore new facets of global engineering education” (quoted text from OJGEE home page).

To access the full aticle, just click the “download” button at the top right of “The Rationale for Developing Global Competence” abstract page.

I hope this useful journal can continue to attract the submission of enough papers to keep publishing at least one issue annually.  I’ll let you know when the next issue comes out.

11 May


EWB 101: Who is Dorothy?

May 11, 2010 | By |

Orangepedia: The Source on EWB

Admittedly, EWB can be, at times, a hard organization to fathom; partly due to the industry in which we work and partly due to our organization’s approach. EWB doesn’t claim to have the answers to all questions, but rather approaches challenges with a humble servitude ever-learning mindset. As such, things like terminology or even direction, change, and keeping track of them can some times be difficult.

Thankfully, a new tool has recently emerged on the EWB communications scene, named Orangepedia (The Orange Wiki of Change). As the name suggests the website is a Wikipedia-style compendium of all things EWB. The tool “captures the important things you need to know and lessons learned” as contributed by knowledgeable people in EWB communities from across Canada.

We’ve pulled the Orangepedia entry for “Dorothy” into this post not only to introduce Orangepedia as a tool, which may answer many fundamental questions you have regarding EWB, but also to address an EWB-ism with which many new members have difficulty: just exactly who IS this Dorothy?

Dorothy: An Introduction

“I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest (wo)man whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, then contemplate if this step is going to be of any use to him. Will (s)he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to Swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your self melting away.”

Even though these words from Mahatma Gandhi were quoted in one of his last notes from 1948, they remain true 62 years later and a central tenet in the philosophy of EWB. In the same way that Gandhi considers the face of this man or woman, in his decision making process, we at EWB, consider Dorothy as who we are working for, and  the ultimate benefactor of our decisions.  As stated in EWB’s newly defined values, ‘We put Dorothy first’.

Dorothy: Our Boss

Quoted directly from Orangepedia:

“Dorothy is our boss. She is the one to whom we ultimately report, and she is the one with whom we partner and work beside. Our commitment to her is enshrined in our charter: “Notwithstanding the various stakeholders – members, donors, management, board, the engineering profession, partners and others – there is one stakeholder who must always come first: the people in the developing communities with whom and for whom we work.” The name ‘Dorothy’ personifies the “stakeholder who must always come first.”

Dorothy represents a development worker that EWB met in our work overseas. We came to see her as a representative of the people with whom and for whom we work. She represents the poor women and men who struggle every day within a cycle of poverty and vulnerability to make positive change for themselves, their families, their communities and the world.

EWB understands the heterogeneity of developing communities, and does not try to represent this reality in the person of ‘Dorothy’. Dorothy is instead a reminder to us of those caught in a cycle of poverty. When we have to make a tough decision or plan, both in Canada and overseas, we try to step back for a moment, and ask ourselves “What would Dorothy think? If we could explain the challenges and tradeoffs of our potential action or inaction, what would she want us to do?”

We feel that everyone involved in human development, and everyone passionate about helping to build a better world will be faced with tough decisions and trade-offs in their personal and professional lives. Keeping someone like “Dorothy” in mind helps keep us focused on the impact of our decisions.”

The above definition of “Dorothy” is admittedly rather generic. Personal definitions are as individual as the members themselves and creating this personal definition is important. Do you have a personal connection with “Dorothy”? Do you agree with this wiki-definition? Let us know by posting a comment below.

To read more about “Dorothy” and other EWB foundational topics, visit the Orangepedia website and browse around. We encourage you to contact us if you have any further questions.