Wes Vanderhoek has used his skills to make a difference overseas.
Vanderhoek, who grew up in Lacombe, recently graduating from the University of Alberta with a degree in mechanical engineering and was looking for a job. Through a friend, he learned about Engineering Ministries International (eMi).
“It looked like a great opportunity to use my degree as well as be involved in the Christian community,” said Vanderhoek. “The two worlds kind of came together.”
From Feb. 12-23, Vanderhoek and a team of other architects and engineers worked on a project to prepare a master plan for the campuses of the Shalom University of Bunio in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Vanderhoek said that, in particular, their project was focused on creating a master plan for the new, undeveloped west campus of the university.
During their time onsite, the volunteers met with campus leadership, staff and students to catch the vision for the expanded university and to examine the existing buildings and infrastructure.
By the time they returned home, the team was able to present a schematic master plan back to the university.
Specifically, Vanderhoek collected water and septic data to help with developing the plan.
He said the data he collected will be used to decide how many wells will need to be drilled, where the septic systems need to be and other such facilities.
Vanderhoek said that his experience in the Congo was “Very third world.”
He said that while many of the luxuries and amenities Canadians are used to were not present, the people at the university were very friendly and happy to hear about them.
Because the locals did not have all of the luxuries common to Canada, it made them more appreciative of what they did have, he said.
Overall, he said he enjoyed the trip, adding it was very interesting and eye-opening. Vanderhoek also said he enjoyed interacting with the locals and learning about their visions for their country most of all.
He is still working with the Shalom University to develop a their master plan for the campuses. He said that the trip was mostly to gather data for the project. He and the rest of the team will be working on the project until the end of April from their offices in Calgary.
Engineering Ministries International is a non-profit organization that leads mission trips around the world.
Worldwide, Engineering Ministries International has been in existence since 1982, and has worked on more than 1,000 development and relief projects in over 90 countries, donating over $6 million (63,000 hours) in services to their client partners helping to bring the Gospel to the poorest and least reached peoples on earth.
Engineering Ministries International Canada opened its doors in 2002 and registered as a Canadian charity in the spring of 2007. Based in Calgary, eMi Canada has three full time staff members and leads six to nine project trips per year.
Since eMi Canada opened its doors, it has been involved in almost 50 design and development projects around the world, as well as mobilizing Canadian volunteers for disaster response opportunities.