World Merit – Introduction

Hello all, thanks for reading this post. It is just quick introduction to set the scene for what I will be working on for the foreseeable future. In August I will be heading to New York with World Merit to join 359 other passionate young people to want to use their experience and drive to change the world for the better.

World Merit is an organization fighting complex global issues by building confidence, raising aspiration and connecting young diverse citizens of merit. Merit360 is set to have young global citizens from all over the world come together to tackle the worlds most pressing issues. Under the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, we will be working on an action plan that will be presented at the United Nations Headquarters on September 9th 2016, a plan that afterwards will be implemented collaboratively across the world to make positive change.

I have chosen to pursue SDG 6:Clean water and sanitation. My main focus is on water resource management. I think this is particularly important because not only does it cover all areas of water consumption and production, but also includes both developing and developed countries. Areas like the northern coast of Peru have water tapped in at great expense, but the water they receive is so poorly managed that most of it is wasted. Developed countries like the UK and America have ridiculous levels of water consumption, to the point that they are causing droughts. We need to change this.

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I will be working hard over the next year, not only to develop a strategy to help people better manage their water use, but also to drive industry to acknowledge and take ownership of its responsibility to educate clients and users alike about their role to play in future water security.

The main thing we all need to remember is that the SDGs are not just for developing countries or government, they are for everyone.

To find out more check out Merit360 and follow this blog. If you are interested and want ot apply to come to New York and make the change you want to see then click on the picture below.

If you would like to support World Merit then please check out my fundraising page here. Thank you

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Why Engineering? Part 1

 

Industry leaders such as the ICE and RAEng has been spending a lot of time and money trying to figure out how to encourage more people into Engineering. To help with this I have been trying to understand why people who are in the industry chose to be there, and where they came from.

To start this of, I will explain a bit about how I ended up in engineering.

I studied in the University of Bristol. I loved my degree and now really enjoy my job. But I didn’t always want to be an engineer. Up until the age of 16 I wanted to go into musical theater. I have a diploma in classical singing and performed with Youth Music Theatre (YMT) with some truly talented and now very famous performers. But it wasn’t quite what I wanted from life… I needed something different. I have been fundraising for a charity, The Romilly Forshall Foundation, working with disadvantaged children in Africa, but I wanted to do more than just raise money for great causes, I wanted to tackle them first-hand.

Frankenstein with YMT

I loved science, but had no interest in sitting in a lab looking at one thing in minute detail (at least that was my impression of science back then).  I loved art, so I started looking into architecture. Sadly the impression I got of architecture was; rich men designing fancy frivolous buildings for more rich men.  I now know there is so much more to architecture, and if I had known then what I know now, I may have chosen differently. All I knew was I wanted to work in development; I wanted to make a difference (but I wasn’t sure what that was just yet).

A teacher at my school recommended I look at engineering. I was close to choosing Mechanical (so I could go into renewable energies) but at the last moment I switched to Civil engineering. The biggest issues I encountered in developing countries were water and roads… and that was Civil’s remit, so that’s where I headed.

I switched my A Levels from Music, Art, and Drama to Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Art and Politics. I picked a degree, university and completed my A levels and headed to Uganda to volunteer with a school. This was my first real experience of volunteering in a developing country, and I loved it. I now knew where I wanted to be. But it wasn’t enough to just give time. I wanted to gain the skills I needed to be of real help.

Volunteering in Matugga, Uganda

I loved my degree (Masters of Civil Engineering at the University of Bristol) and gathered many wonderful and talented friends with big ideas on how to save the world. Students are just a hive of passion and revolution. Through Engineers Without Borders(EWB) we began developing our interest in development into real skills and practical knowledge. On graduating I went to Peru with EWB and EcoSwell and used the skills I had gathered to help Lobitos to understand the options for sanitation solutions in a climate with little to no water.

I have so much to learn, and so much to give. I will continue developing my skills with Buro Happold, and in the future I hope to be able to drive projects to a more sustainable, community centric end.

I didn’t know I wanted to be an Engineer; I knew I wanted to make positive change. Engineering can give me the skills and the environment I need to do that.

If you want to share how and why you got into your area of work please comment below or message me. I am relay interested to see what drives people into different jobs!

Many thanks 🙂

 

Sisterhood of the travelling mooncup

If any of you remember the popular early naughties film ‘the sisterhood of the travelling pants’ then you will be relieved to hear that I am not proposing sharing a moon cup… but I hope this blog will help to persuade you that MoonCups are not only an incredibly environmentally and purse friendly way of managing your period, but also are perfect for travelling in every country.

Moon Cup

I have been using a moon cup for 2 years now, and it has made my life so much simpler, particularly when travelling.

In 2014 I was fortunate enough to end up working in Hong Kong for three months, on a construction site in 40oC and 100% humidity. On my way home I spent a month travelling in Vietnam and Cambodia. While I was there I also did a lot of hiking… and if any of you have been to Asia you will know the toilets are less than appealing and not set up to dispose of sanitary items. In my bag I took 4 months’ worth of tampons and some sanitary towels. This is a lot of  stuff to pack away and carry around but in Hong Kong sanitary-ware is extortionately expensive, and in Vietnam it is very hard to find, so I went prepared! Nothing went disastrously wrong, but travelling and periods don’t always mix.

Working onsite in Hong Kong

Having survived my Asian travels without too much incident (minus treading on a Cobra…) I returned to university where I received a truly unique lecture on ‘Menstrual Hygiene in the Developing World’ from Bristol graduate and founder of NoMoreTaboo; Chloe Tingle. I studied Engineering, so the majority of my peers were male, and to my pleasant surprise most of them responded very well to the interactive lecture. The social response to ‘periods’ varies considerably around the world, from embarrassing moments at school to total social exclusion. As well as discussing the impact that menstruation has on young girls and women in developing countries we were shown various different methods of menstrual hygiene control that are used around the world, including reusable pads and MoonCups.

 

Now, I have always tried to be conscious about how much waste I produce, I recycle everything I can, reuse bags and clothes and anything I can until it crumbles. But I hadn’t fully appreciated how that singular bodily function could persuade me to be such a consumer and waster! In the UK each woman in her lifetime spends over £3500 on sanitary products, uses over 11,000 pads or tampons; creating over 150kg of landfill waste which takes 500 years to biodegrade. Chloe’s inspirational lecture made me re-think the way I handled that special time of the month and I decided to buy a MoonCup.

Planet Custodian – Every month, nearly 432 million females dispose of used sanitary pads

I will be honest and say it took a few months to properly get used to, and in that time I continued to use pads as a backup. But since then I have had no problems. All of a sudden a huge monthly spend had disappeared, but best of all that awkward moment when you realise it has been 4 hours since you changed, or you are having a particularly heavy day, doesn’t happen anymore, as you can use a cup for up to 8 hours. This was a huge relief when hiking through the Cordillia Blanca Mountain range in Peru.

After graduating I volunteered with Engineers Without Borders in Lobitos, Peru with a great charity called EcoSwell. While working for the charity sanitation facilities were not a far cry from what we have here in the UK. However I did do a lot of surfing and running. I think MoonCups function better than tampons when it comes to sports, both in and out of the water.

MoonCups are also great for use in wild outdoor activities, like surfing with sealions

Once I completed my placement we (my boyfriend and I) went travelling for a month through Peru. We spent a week in Huraz, which included a  four day Santa Cruz hike; four days without a toilet, and yep… I was on my period. But fear not… I did not have to carry my box of tampons and pads and a bin bag…. just the one moon cups, rinsed out with drinking water, saw me through the whole trip, and NO WASTE was left in the mountains!

Camping at 4,200m : No matter where in the world you are, menstruation happens

I know MoonCups may seem odd, unhygienic, and unfamiliar; but they are much more convenient than tampons, much more hygienic and so so much easier for travelling.

If you are unsure… just give them a try… and like me you will never look back.

I would like to add that NoMoreTaboo and charities like it are doing great work around the world in both developed and developing countries. They not only inform people about the more environmentally friendly options to menstrual hygiene control, but also work with womens’ groups in developing countries to try and break down the taboos surrounding ‘periods’; empowering women to take control, build social enterprises selling menstrual ware, and developing support groups in countries where the taboos can be crippling to female equality.

Thank you for reading this blog, check out NoMoreTaboo’s website here: www.nomoretaboo.org

 

 

Survey response

For those of you just beginning reading this blog I shall give you a quick background of Lobitos.

Lobitos is a small semi-rural town in Piura, North Peru. It has a population of approximately 1,500 people. The primary local trade is fishing however there are many oil extraction stations within the district.  The current sanitation system carries waste away from houses but does not lead to a place of treatment. There are large spills in various parts of the town which pose health and environmental risks. To assess the current sanitation system, the community opinion of sanitation and their future aspirations I developed a survey (discussed in a previous post).  From the sampling 70 surveys were planned, but due unanswered doors 64 surveys were carried out.

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El Niño preperation part two

The El Niño preparations are speeding along. We have had two meetings since my last post on this.

After the meeting on the 27.08.2015 Letters were written inviting the oil companies to attend the next meeting on the 03.09.2015. These were signed by members of the community and sent out. All three oil companies invited attended, which is a huge success in itself, but still no sign of the municipality.

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