Friday, May 1, 2009

"SHIP"-ping off to Zambia

In short order I'll step out of the familiar and into the unknown; I'll embark on a journey to a continent I've never set foot on. The landlocked Southern African nation of Zambia is my destination. In short order I'll step away from familiar and often snow covered Canadian soil and live under the Zambian sun. Preconceptions clouded by expectations and ignorance will give way to growing perspectives fostered by experiences in Zambia- perspectives that will grow under the Zambian sun.

My name is Patrick Miller - I'm twenty one years old and I study Civil Engineering at the University of Calgary. This summer I'll be shipping off to Zambia as part of the Engineers Without Borders Junior Fellowship program. EWB Canada is a charitable organization dedicated to creating a world of change by fostering growth of global leaders in Canada and participating in development overseas by learning and building capacity. The Junior Fellowship program presents a unique chance for Canadian university students to work and learn with partner organizations in one of the four nations EWB is involved in (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, and Zambia). Each EWB Chapter has the chance to send a JF and this year I will be representing the amazing University of Calgary Chapter!

The program involves four months of foundation learning before departure, four months of work and learning overseas, and eight months of sharing upon return. JFs strive to have impact in their country and sector by taking part in capacity building oriented development, to learn about development and poverty through first hand experience, and to drive change in Canada by sharing their experiences and the lessons they have learned- driving change by growing new perspectives amongst not only the EWB chapters they represent but also the Canadian public at large.

This summer a team of thirteen Junior Fellows from across Canada will be headed to Southern Africa. Seven of us will be in Zambia and six will be in Malawi.

The SA JF team: (from left to right) Front row: Sierra (Z), Vicki (Z), Tamara (M), Annette (M)
Back row: Ian (M), Me (Z), Mike H (Z), Colleen (M), Tony (Z), Mike K (Z), Rob (M), Deg(Z), and our awesome coach / support staff Melissa.
(Andrew (M) is not pictured)

Our team will be working in both of EWB's Southern African focus areas: Water and Sanitation (WatSan) and Agricultural Value Chains.

My placement is in the city of Ndola which is in the Copperbelt province of Zambia.

According to the United Nation's Human Development Index Zambia ranks 163rd/179; Zambia is a country facing numerous challenges in the twenty first century. In Ndola I will be working in the WatSan sector with an organization called "Seeds of Hope International Partnerships" (SHIP). The specific area I will be working on with SHIP is with regards to BioSand Filters.

EWB's WatSan work is divided into three focus areas:

1) Sanitation Behaviour Change

2) Operation and Maintenance of water access points

3)New Approaches and technology

My placement fits in with the third area in that it is dealing with the approach of integrating Biosand filters as a means to allow households to access clean water. Clean water is essential for a individual, household, or community to stay healthy and grow. BSF offers a way for clean water to be obtained at the household level. Not all communities have access to a bore hole or other improved water source so unsafe water sources may be the only way a community to get water. Biosand filters have the potential to treat contaminated water for human consumption. My understanding of my placement is that it will involve looking at the user perceptions of the BSF as well as how effective these filters are and how to best manage this information.
Throughout the summer I will be living and working around Ndola, a city located in the Copperbelt province. It is the home of approximately 374,757 people and has a rich history that is too much to explore in this introductory post. Where in/around Ndola I will stay I don't know; JFs typically stay with a host family or families during their placement. This is an experience I can't wait to have. I am very excited to see how my living arrangements take shape in Ndola.

In these four months in and around Ndola I hope to learn as much as possible about the local people; I want to experience their culture, learn from their life stories, and delve deep into everything that is Ndola..., witness everything that it means to be Zambian. Gaining these new perspectives will help me better understand the problems facing Ndola/Zambia, and hopefully help me be a more effective JF.

This blog will chronicle and reflect my experiences and changing perspectives in Zambia with SHIP. I plan to continually update this blog throughout my placement and I would love to have you all, the readers, accompany me on this journey. Is there anything you'd like to see in my blog? Have any questions? Any comments? Please let me know! I would love to hear from everyone and anyone either through comments on this blog or via email (

In mere days the familiar Calgarian scenery will fade away and be replaced by the Toronto skyline for pre-departure training which begins on May 6th. After an intense week(ish) of learning and training I will fly to Lilongwe in Malawi via Amsterdam and Nairobi (Kenya) and then it's off to Ndola!

Until next time,



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Yo Patrick! Can you add me to auto notification? "Settings" -> "Email and mobile" -> "Blogsend"

  3. If anyone else would like to be added to the auto notification let me know!

  4. :) Awesome. Cant wait to be on this journey with you Patrick!

  5. Drownd = Linnea. Sorry. Dont have any other accounts..

  6. Hey Patrick add me to auto notification too please!

  7. Hello Patrick!! Can you autonotify Grace too please? Hope everythings good! ~Grace