Lace Up Your Shoes for Africa

Concordia Students Raise Money for Engineers Without Boarders

On Sept. 5, students from Concordia University’s engineering faculty got sweaty for a good cause.

As part of the Montreal Oasis marathon, they took to the streets to raise money for the Concordia chapter of Engineers Without Borders, an organization that sends young engineers to Africa to improve infrastructure in the world’s most impoverished nations.

“We have 10 runners from Concordia,” said Jad Saleh, president of the Concordia chapter of EWB. “We have other members who set up a profile on the website. They cannot run, but they still support the cause by collecting donations. We have roughly 20 to 25 other runners who come from McGill, École Polytechnique and the Montreal professional chapter, so we’ll be about 40 people.”

The engineering students have spent the last six weeks getting into shape, going on biweekly training runs. The money raised will help to send students to Africa in the coming year. According to Saleh, it can cost upwards of $6,500 to send a student to Africa for four months.

“The reason for that is because we have to pay for the expenses of the flight, plus food, vaccinations and finding a host family who will take care of them,” he said. “And there’s also the training they do before they go.”

The engineering faculty and office of the dean of engineering will double the money raised by runners. So far, the students have raised $625. The pledge from the faculty brings the total to $1,250.

“We want to get as much money as possible,” said Saleh. “We want to send as many students overseas because it’s a good opportunity for them. They learn a lot, and they come back and help the chapter.”

The Quebec chapter of EWB received some good news when they learned they were finalists for an award given by Forces AVENIR, which “aims to recognize, honour and promote the achievements of students who have exhibited remarkable excellence and commitment while rigorously pursuing their university studies,” according to the Forces AVENIR website.

The Quebec chapter comprises student members at Concordia, McGill, Polytechnique, Sherbrooke and the Université de Laval, and will receive $2,000 for being selected as a finalist. The chapter will be eligible for the $5,000 Communication, Education and Society Award, as well as the $15,000 Projet Par Excellence. The winners will be announced at a gala on Nov. 2.

While the money would be helpful in sending more participants abroad, Saleh said that the real payoff is knowing that the program is making a difference.
“We believe that engineering isn’t just students studying math, physics and chemistry, but that engineers can take part in helping other people.”

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 04, published September 7, 2010.