Peter Bosscher and nine students brought water to the Rwandan town of Muramba this past summer. What they didn’t know is that they were also bringing hope.
Bosscher admits he didn’t realize the impact that he and his students would have. “We just assumed we’d be giving them clean water. We didn’t know we’d be imparting the biggest gift we could give them—a sense of hope that they have a possibility for a better future.”
Bosscher is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of Engineers Without Borders, a worldwide nonprofit organization whose mission is to “build a better world, one community at a time.”
Bosscher, a member of Geneva Campus Christian Reformed Church in Madison, had been to Rwanda on three previous occasions with students. Their work has focused on improving and bringing new water sources to Muramba’s current pipelines, designing rooftop rainwater catchments for irrigation, implementing a solar cooking process, and making pressed waste material for villagers to use as an alternate source of fuel.
But rather than fixing problems themselves, Bosscher and his team enlist the help of villagers, providing the community with sustainable solutions that will improve their quality of life. That way, Bosscher said, “they’re well trained, they know how to build it again, and there’s a commitment to passing it on. We want to work ourselves out of a job.”
“We all have a calling, a vocation, a need to live out what we’re called to do,” he said. “It just so happens I can train students in this way, and I praise God that can be done.”
Bosscher plans a trip back to Rwanda in January, this time with students from Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, Ill.