EWB-Maties: Our 2018 Journey
EWB-Maties has grown leaps and bounds over the 2018 year. As Chairperson, I couldn’t be prouder of the amazing executive team of 2018 and what they have managed to achieve. EWB-Maties, being one of the smallest chapters; have managed to grow its active membership base by nearly 300%. (39 ->112 members) As a result, the chapter was not only able to add new and exciting projects to the year plan, but also affect more sustainable change within our community. Such projects included the Human Centred Design & Personal Development Course, The Animal Welfare Centre Revamp, The Computer Literacy Program, The Solar Generator Project, as well as being a part of the Stellenbosch University Giving Day #Move4Food Campaign.
The Human Centred Design (HCD) & Personal Development Course
Over the last few years, EWB-Maties have conducted a one-hour HCD course in which members were encouraged to not only find ways to better identify problems in our community, but also correctly design solutions that are tailored to mitigating the root cause of the problem by considering all factors of the design process. We believed that one hour just simply wasn’t long enough to truly understand the importance of design thinking. As a result, we embarked on a collaborative 3 hour program with EWB-UCT in which Phd Lecturers from Cape Towns well established d-school presented a fun, and engaging program on design thinking. This was incredibly well received by all members involved.
Furthermore, EWB-Maties became aware that many of the programs/projects the chapter run are focused on community outreach, and social upliftment; with very little focus on personal development of the engineer themselves. This begged the question as to how do we expect to become influential engineers, if we are unaware of the strengths and weaknesses, dreams and goals that we have or aspire to attain. We thus decided to incorporate a Personal Development aspect of the HCD course. We were lucky enough to establish a 5 hour personal development program in which 6 of SA’s most established executive and life coaches coached and mentored our very own members on Personal Mastery, and leadership. This program was not only well received by our members, but so successful that many members requested the project to be rolled over to 2019.
The Animal Welfare Centre Revamp
When we think of community outreach/social upliftment projects, we often forget to consider those who have no voice. EWB-Maties thus decided to embark on a project aimed to uplift the lives of the animals at the Stellenbosch Animal Welfare Centre. Seeing as the Welfare Centre is an NPO; most of the funding received goes directly towards food, medication/ veterinary procedures as opposed to facility upkeep. As a result, many of the kennels – especially for the puppies – are cold and dark, leading to many of the puppies dying purely due to living conditions. EWB-Maties thus helped raise funding and install Wall heaters into the new puppy center (prior to the winter season) to help give the puppies a fighting chance during the cold winter months. We are excited to help revamp the larger dog kennels fencing and water filtration systems next year.
The Computer Literacy Program
It has become increasingly evident that despite South Africa’s progress over the last 20 years, the education system – especially in the more underprivileged areas- has not developed at the same rate. This is especially prevalent in the omittance of any technology based subjects. In a constantly advancing world, it is outright unacceptable to have an education system that does not equip the youth for the working world in which they will soon find themselves. The computer Literacy Program is thus a project aimed at using our very own members knowledge of computers to design and facilitate an after school program aimed at teaching young grade 8 learners the basics of computing. (Microsoft, Internet, etc) The program is entirely run by our members. This project was initially implemented last year at Makapula High School in Khayamandi, and was so well received that this year we received 210 applications to take part. (an increase from only 40 applications in 2017)
Unfortunately, due to protests and riots in the area; the school with the agreement of EWB-Maties had to suspend the project due to unsafe conditions. We are hoping to run this project again next year if all goes well.
The Solar Generator Project
EWB aims to not only utilize and mobilise young engineers’ skills to uplift society, but also aims to encourage and instil the love of math and science into young South African’s – to help potentially grow the number of students willing to pursue a career in science, maths or engineering.
This project aims to do just this. With the help of Khayamandi High School Staff, we were able to identify 10 of their grade 10 learners performing well in these respective subjects who were then mentored by our members about; the importance of renewable energy, how to use basic scientific equipment (ie: soldering guns, ammeters etc) and to physically build their very own portable solar generator that they could take home. Such a generator could power a study light/ charger a cell phone. This project was incredibly successful, with 9 of the students deciding to pursue core mathematics and science as subjects for matric, subsequent to the completion of the project.
The Stellenbosch University Giving Day #Move4Food Initiative
Despite the recent announcement of fee-free education, large funding gaps still exist. (especially with regards to food security) This became evident with the announcement that 30% of all South African students attending tertiary education are in fact suffering from a lack of food security; resulting in many of such students not completing their studies. Stellenbosch University identified that not only was this a prevalent issue on campus, but was resulting in more that 13% of current students dropping out yearly. The university thus embarked on a massive student-led campaign, Giving Day #Move4Food, which aimed to raise R10 million in 100 days to create food banks on campus that would help provide daily meals to such students for a period of 3 years.
EWB-Maties was called upon to design, and install a container (“lunch box”) that would be housed in the university cafeteria to help encourage the university students, and community to try get behind the cause and help end student hunger. EWB, however, took the brief one step further; and decided that the box should not just be a platform for donations of non-perishable food items, but should create awareness into the food insecurity issue, as well as create a sense of student solidarity. The 120 cubic meter box was implemented in the cafeteria for one week only, and aimed to meet a target of 10 000 donated items.
EWB-Maties not only exceeded this target, achieving over 15 000 donations (monetary value of ~R38 000 ) but also managed to create the largest donations box ever constructed in the world. The entire initiative, along with the box, helped raise awareness and attract donations across the Western Cape; being recognised on Cape Talk, various local news stations, as well as received a personal visit and acknowledgement by Thuli Madonsela herself.
EWB-Maties members have made the Executive committee and the entire Stellenbosch Community incredibly proud over the course of the year. It is incredibly humbling to know that South Africa is in the hands of such hard working, dedicated, and passionate young people. We hope EWB-Matie’s continues to strive towards even greater heights in the 2019 year.
EWB-Maties Chairperson 2018