Our Junior Fellows reflect on their time in Kenya
In October 2017 Engineers Without Borders UK sent two Junior Fellows to Kenya for four weeks to support our partner organisation Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI). Juliet and Andrew worked under the supervision of Senior Fellows Jen and Milly. Here they reflect on their time in Kenya with KDI.
“Living and working in Nairobi was an amazing experience. Between us we were mainly working on structural and civil engineering designs for a primary school in Kibera. Our typical day involved site visits to discuss the existing structures and construction methods used. Within the KDI offices, we had the opportunity to collaborate with designers, architects and landscape architects, and we learnt a lot from our inspiring colleagues.
During our four-week placement, we developed our engineering understanding and learnt about traditional construction methods and materials used in engineering in Kenya. We were involved in delivering community workshops, writing reports on drainage for a site, collecting community data and designing the foundations for a local school. Through working in the community, we were very impressed with the innovative solutions and upcycling of materials that the communities of Kibera use, such as using soda crates for an infiltration pit. We gained an insight into the problems that the communities of Kibera face, such as having no access roads, no formal drainage systems and nowhere to drain water. It is exciting to have been part of the design, knowing that we provided useful skills, and we are looking forward to seeing pictures when the second phase of the school is constructed.
Our time in Kenya went by very quickly but we learnt a lot about the local culture and the work environment in Kenya. Outside of work we sampled all the local dishes, and tried chai (a milky black tea, with a significant amount of sugar) and ate delicious, fresh chapatis en route to work. We are also grateful to KDI staff who helped us to learn and practice basic Swahili, which was helpful to understand the gist of community meetings, and also came in useful when we went on safari, and getting a good price for fruit and veg at the market!
We enjoyed our time with the KDI team and the Senior Fellows very much. Experiencing first-hand the impact that the international development sector has to create positive, meaningful change has inspired us both to consider it seriously as a career path. We would highly recommend the experience to any engineer considering this line of work and are looking forward to the projects we will be involved with in the future!”
Engineers Without Borders UK would like to thank the Happold Foundation for its support to the Global Engineer Fellowship programme.