AS part of Just a Drop’s ‘20 Seconds Lifesaver Appeal‘, we are running a series of articles on our volunteer project engineers. Without their commitment and expertise, Just a Drop would not be able to carry out the life-saving work that it does. Our third article is about Jim Baldwin:
Decades devoted to providing the world’s poor with clean drinking water
Civil engineer Jim Baldwin has spent over 40 years working around the world, from rural India to the slums of Kampala, Uganda, providing the poor with clean drinking water.
Now aged 71 and a grandfather-of-four, he has no plans to slow down.
Last month, Jim – a volunteer project engineer for Just a Drop – flew out to Zambia to use his technical skills to ensure poverty-stricken villagers have access to clean water and a clear understanding of the importance of good hygiene and sanitation practices. He visited rural villages near to Livingstone and Ndola, met the local partners and saw first-hand the impact of the charity’s work.
Jim says, “The things I have learnt over 40 years give me a big advantage. I can help people to see solutions quickly and save time and wasted effort. Usually in a village there is a need for cultural change, which takes time. People don’t change just because you tell them to, they change when they want to. It requires sufficient time to be spent sitting down and listening to them before guiding them to improve their situation and it can be a very humbling experience.”
As a civil engineer, Mr Baldwin started his career working on bridges and power stations.
In India he still works for improved rural water, sanitation and hygiene, and now, with Just a Drop, he mentors the people who carry out that work to make sure they are doing it in the best way.
Jim is concerned that civil engineering is not attracting enough young people to replace retiring engineers, possibly because there is a general lack of understanding about what a civil engineer does. The work is important to communities across the world and is potentially so varied that it provides tremendous job satisfaction and great opportunities to travel. Civil engineers not only design but supervise the construction of anything that serves society, from a latrine in a rural village to the most complex concrete and steel constructions.
Just a Drop
Jim joined the Just a Drop team in 2013 and is just one member of a dedicated team of volunteer engineers who provide a diverse range of skills.
Through Just a Drop’s Honorary President Colonel John Blashford Snell, many of these engineers are current, serving or former military servicemen with logistical and engineering experience in conducting site surveys, appointing local workforces and overseeing the project to completion. Many are not averse to travelling to far-flung destinations and have been known to travel by light aircraft, canoe, or horseback to drag equipment and building materials through jungle and other inhospitable terrain in order to reach communities desperate for clean water.
Just a Drop is determined to continue to make a difference. And with your help it can. Please consider supporting our appeal with a donation of £5 – enough to provide a child with a clean supply of water for life.