“Engineers are not god”
– Jorge Cuervo Manrique, EG’s international project volunteer and Annual Dialogue 2016 speaker
This year’s annual dialogue, held on 25th September 2016 at The Red Box and themed “Perspectives on Empowering Disadvantaged Communities”, was more than just a laid-back Sunday event to network, share ideas and get updates on EG’s projects. It was also a timely reminder from Jorge that technical skills alone are insufficient to create a meaningful impact in humanitarian work. It is always important to engage the local community and better understand their way of life so that real impact can be made. Technology must complement, not dominate, the work that we do.
Joel Tan, Volunteer Manager at Trybe, our project partner, shared about the two levels of benefits that the Trybe boys experienced while learning and serving children with special needs through making of accessibility switches and adapted computer mice with us. Often labelled as delinquents in society, these boys never expected themselves to be capable of contributing to the larger community. Yet, through our project, they found themselves personally presenting the assistive devices they had made with love to these children with special needs. The boys had not only helped others, they had also benefitted greatly themselves, learning new skills and gaining a sense of purpose through serving.
Similar to the Trybe boys, Theodore William Salim, a local project volunteer, also shared how his own volunteer experience, developing the FunBox for Rainbow Centre, has benefitted him as much as the future users of the FunBox. Not only has the project widened his social circle and strengthened his technical skills, but more importantly, the team managed to catch quite a number of rare Pokemons during their volunteer journey!
At this point, there was still a burning desire to know: have our projects actually been relevant to our beneficiaries? To answer this, Thomas Ng, Senior Teacher at Rainbow Centre, shared that not only has our collaboration enabled the school to provide customised assistive technology for their students, he sees many more opportunities in bringing engineering knowledge and expertise into special education.
After the four speakers shared their perspectives on empowering disadvantaged communities, it was time to hear from the audience! Moving swiftly, the audience broke into five groups – local projects, international projects, volunteering & talent pool, education & outreach, and blue sky – to share their ideas and thoughts on how EG can continue working in these areas.
It was heartening to meet all our volunteers, friends, and supporters at our Annual Dialogue and to hear all your ideas and perspectives, which we will take into account and incorporate into our work. We look forward to many more years of fruitful collaborations, to create a better world through humanitarian engineering!
Our Annual Report FY15/16 is now available online at http://engineeringgood.org/reports/. Check it out!