Students and humanitarian associations : the dream and the reality

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Ingénieur Sans Frontières

Seminar Social life | Friday December 17, 1999

It is a commendable dream for a newly qualified engineer to want to offer his skills and energy to a great cause such as aid to developing countries. The association ‘Ingénieurs sans frontières’ allows this dream to become reality. Once in the field, however, the situation is far from idyllic. Before setting out one must prepare oneself for this situation. Such is the cultural gap that, without realising it, one might upset the local population and thereby endanger the whole project. Local climatic conditions make certain technical procedures inappropriate. Resourcefulness is the key. Not only the living environment and the local food, but also the health risk and the stifling heat make daily life difficult. However, these inconveniences fade into insignificance compared to the greatest satisfaction of all, namely, the quality of the relationship established with the local population. One can even ask oneself who benefits most from this experience : the engineers or the locals ?

The entire article was written by:

Lucien CLAES

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