Return to Ghana

In just a few weeks, from February 25th to March 6th, we will be returning to Gomoa Gyaman, Ghana to finish constructing the latrine! Over the fall and winter, the latrine substructure remained covered and unused, waiting for the next phase of construction. We will make use of the lessons learned on last summer’s trip including quality and availability of materials and labor delegation.

Currently, we are making sure all of our vaccinations are complete, developing a construction plan, and calculating the amount of material and labor required. This lengthy process includes all members of the club, not only those who will be travelling.

This latrine will have 10 stalls and 2 handwashing stations. It will be constructed using CMU and mortar walls with a truss-style roof. Stalls will be divided with CMUs and the roof will be covered with sheet metal. This latrine, when finished, will be a great improvement over existing latrines, some of which are structurally inadequate and others of which are full. Additionally, this latrine is designed to be emptied periodically by a professional waste removal service from a nearby city.

We have spent a significant time preparing for this trip and are really looking forward to the results. Check back for the post-trip recap!

Ghana Go-Ahead

The RHIT student chapter of EWB has been given final approval to travel to Ghana on their first implementation trip to the community of Gomoa Gyaman! It’s been since August 2013 that the chapter first traveled to Gomoa Gyaman on an assessment trip in which the team met with community leaders and residents to learn about the needs of the community. The team learned that the community suffers from a sanitation issue due to a lack of adequate places to go to the bathroom. Much of the community practices open defecation while using the limited privacy of brush and other plants. The bathroom facilities that do exist are in very poor condition and pose structural safety threats. Children in the community are at high risk of contracting fecal-born diseases as most of the surface waters are polluted with human waste.

After two years of overcoming many design and logistical obstacles, we are returning to the community to begin construction on the first of four ventilated pit latrines. Each of the four latrines is designed to service one quarter of the community, roughly 800 residents, for at least five years before needing to be emptied. During our previous assessment trip, we learned that the community was not comfortable handling their waste themselves, making composting and other latrine types unfeasible. A professional waste removal service from a nearby city is able to be contracted to remove the waste as needed.

With less than two weeks until departure, the team is the most prepared they have been to make the largest impact in the community of Gomoa Gyaman! Stay tuned for our post-trip recap!

Technical Mentor Transition

Wil Painter has been with the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Engineers Without Borders student chapter since 2010 as the technical mentor. Wil traveled on a total of eight trips abroad to the communities of Batey Cinco Casas and Batey Santa Rosa in the Dominic Republic and Gomoa Gyaman in Ghana. In Batey Cinco Casas, Wil was instrumental in the design and construction of a hurricane resistant roof for a medical clinic which entirely enclosed the structure, allowing for installation of necessary medical equipment and overnight patient care. Another project for the medical clinic was the construction of a septic system which, in addition to the roof, allowed the hospital to expand more services to more patients. In Batey Santa Rosa, ventilated pit latrines were constructed to help relieve the community of the sanitation issues they faced.

The impact Wil Painter has made on the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology as well as in the communities of Batey Santa Rosa and Batey Cinco Casas in the Dominican Republic, and in the community of Gomoa Gyaman in Ghana will be felt forever. His generosity and technical expertise during the eight trips abroad from 2010 to 2014 allowed the student chapter to gain national recognition among academic and professional institutions. His contributions were invaluable to both the students he mentored and to the communities he served. We are all so grateful for Wil’s involvement with EWB and cannot thank him enough for his selfless dedication.

Roger Ward, a Rose-Hulman alumni, will be taking over as our new technical mentor effective immediately. Roger has extensive experience in the field of civil and environmental engineering as well service projects through the EWB-Indianapolis Professional Chapter. We are thankful for Roger’s willingness to be a part of our organization and we look forward to working with him!


Gratitude for Grads

As the 2014-2015 school year is drawing to a close, we would like to take time to thank all of our outstanding graduating seniors! We are incredibly thankful for all that each of you have contributed to EWB-RHIT over the years and we hope you found the deep enlightenment associated with helping those less fortunate than us. Whether you traveled abroad with EWB or not, we hope you realize the impact that each of you made on those in the communities we served.

We would also like to take this time to thank a special individual. Few members have devoted more of their time and energy into EWB-RHIT than our past president, marketing team manager, and treasurer, Jung Fang. Originally from China, Jung joined EWB his freshman year and made an immediate impact within the club. Jung traveled to the Dominican Republic his freshman year to implement latrines for the community of Batey Santa Rosa. Jung was also selected to travel on the implementation trip to Ghana last summer but was unfortunately unable to travel as the trip was cancelled due to health and safety risks in West Africa during last summer. Jung will be graduating this spring with a degree in chemical engineering and will be attending Georgia Institute of Technology in the fall to pursue his PhD. We wish Jung the best of luck at Georgia Tech and in all of his future endeavors. Jung is a valued member of EWB and his involvement has been critical to the club’s success over the years. We are all sad to see him go but excited for his future! Thanks again, Jung!


EWB-RHIT Honored in EWB-USA Annual Report

In September of 2014, Rose-Hulman Student Chapter was highlighted in Engineers without Borders-USA’s 2013 Annual Report for their work in Gomoa Gyaman, Ghana. This national recognition is an accomplishment to be proud of. Among all chapters that executed a grand total of 684 projects in 39 countries, only four student chapters are recognized in this report. This is a great start and a great momentum builder for the 2014-2015 academic year. Thank you and congratulations to everyone for their hard work and dedication to EWB.


EWB-USA is currently engaged in several projects, such as helping the community in El Salvador to get to impoverished areas by constructing new roads, helping Nicaraguan communities become more sustainable by implementing an agricultural projects, and building new schools in Togo that can change the future for many children. EWB’s projects around the world aim to help those communities that really need assistance. With everyone’s help, we can truly make a difference in the world.

Image retrieved from Engineers Without Borders USA’s 2013 Annual Report

EWB-RHIT Reaches Out to Local Community

Beginning in spring 2013, we are taking on local outreach projects through the Servants At Work (SAWs) ministry. These projects identify the need among people with disabilities for wheelchair ramps, since many receive wheelchairs through their healthcare but are left without easy access to their homes. Partnering with SAWs, we build wheelchair ramps to provide these people with improved mobility. SAWs provides the building materials and blueprints for each ramp, and we provide the construction labor. We have already assembled several ramps and plan to continue volunteering for projects as new needs arise.


EWB-RHIT begins new project in Gomoa Gyaman, Ghana

Having finished our program in the Dominican Republic (which included the construction of a septic system and retrofitting an existing building with a hurricane proof roof to increase the quality and quantity of care provided by a  medical clinic, as well as constructing latrines in a disease-ridden community nearby), our next program, starting this summer, will be in a brand new community. We will be returning to Ghana, this time to the community of Gomoa Gyaman, about 50 miles from our previous program in Obodan where we constructed a brooder house and a community center.  Everyone is very excited about the prospects of this collaboration and we can’t wait to see what working together over the next 5 years will lead to!

The Gomoa Gyaman community has about 5,000 indigenous citizens and over 100,000 in the surrounding region. The community is primarily agrarian and has no major public infrastructure except for a school, church, and public market square. They lack key infrastructure that will help them realize their mission to provide opportunities for development for the community members. The elders, in conjunction with the traditional leaders and Gomoa Gyaman Youth Association, have concluded that four public latrines strategically located throughout the community will curb the health and environmental hazards of improper disposal of human waste.

Sanitation is critical to the welfare of this community and the provision of compost latrines will go a long way to improve the health of the community as a whole as well as provide fertilizer for their crops. A healthy community will lead to more productive citizens and improve the wealth of all.  Other possible future projects with this community include a solar-powered library, a senior secondary school, and a health clinic which would further augment the health and education of community members.

While this is a large undertaking, with a bigger scope than all of our previous projects, this collaboration will lead to a great experience for both parties.  In order for this to be successful, we need your support.  Traveling to Ghana costs roughly $1,600 per person, and in order to maximize the number of students who can benefit from this great opportunity to travel and work with people from a very different culture than their own, extra fundraising is necessary.

Our preliminary budget estimates that the upcoming assessment trip will cost roughly $13,900, allowing 6 students and our professional engineering mentor to travel to the community to learn about the community and their greatest needs, as well as to collect the necessary technical data relating to the design of the compost latrines.

EWB-RHIT completes construction in Batey Santa Rosa, Dominican Republic

Our second implementation trip to Batey Santa Rosa in the Dominican Republic took place at the end of February, 2013. Our project’s goal in Batey Santa Rosa is to build twelve latrines for the community, which will help limit the spread of fecal-born parasites and disease.

During our first implementation trip we constructed three latrines and over the next six months the community successfully built three latrines on their own, using the skills and knowledge that we taught them. The second implementation project was a one week trip where six students and two mentors inspected the latrines that they had built and then constructed three additional latrines; this brings the total number up to nine latrines, three shy of the project’s goal.

Next year we will return to inspect the final three latrines that the community plans to construct and will bring the project to a close as we begin the process of transitioning to our new project in Ghana.