UM project in Honduras hampered by lack of funds

Posted Feb. 01, 2011, at 10:29 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — The student chapter of Engineers Without Borders at the University of Maine will be unable to complete a community sanitation project in Honduras unless it raises an additional $20,100 over the next two weeks.

The group has raised $29,000 for the project in the small town of Dulce Vivir, Honduras, where poor sanitation conditions limit economic opportunities of the residents and cause environmental and health concerns, according to a UM news release.

Implementation of the student-designed sanitation system is scheduled to begin in March and be completed once the remaining funds have been raised. The goal is to finish the project by late May, before the start of the Honduran rainy season in June.

A team of five students and three professional mentors are scheduled to travel to Dulce Vivir during spring break next month to construct the piping system and install the septic tanks. The second part of the implementation, the construction of a raised-mound leach field, is scheduled for May but dependent on meeting fundraising goals.

Student engineers have a mid-February deadline for purchasing construction materials such as sand, gravel, pipe and concrete so they can be delivered to Dulce Vivir in time for construction in May, according to Rita Cooper, chapter president. If funding is not in place soon, the second phase of the project would be pushed back to December or even March 2012.

“Donors will certainly change the lives of the people of Dulce Vivir,” Cooper said in the press release. “Donors will also be contributing to the growth of motivated, passionate and socially conscious young engineers right here at the University of Maine.”

The UMaine chapter of Engineers Without Borders, which was founded in 2007 and is made up of students and their professional mentors, has been working for four years with residents of the Honduran village.

“Through our project, we are all learning how to use the material we’re studying in class to help people and make a real difference,” Cooper said. “We are very lucky to have such passionate students and great professional mentors who put in time outside of classes and jobs to work together to design and construct this challenging project.”

To ensure the long-term functionality and sustainability of the project, community members will receive training on how to maintain the system, and the UM group will maintain contact with residents and provide technical support for at least five years, the press release said.

To learn more or donate to the project, go to www2.umaine.edu/EWB/live or e-mail presi-dent.ewb.um_@gmail.com.

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