When four members of the UC Irvine student chapter of Engineers Without Borders headed to Endana, Kenya, last August to see how they could best help the rural community, it proved to be a real-life pass/fail test in leadership.
"We didn't know what we were getting into," recalls Morgan Bailey, EWB chapter president and a doctoral candidate in environmental engineering. "Up to 70 percent of the people are unemployed. Many have tuberculosis. They drink mud for water. You find yourself asking, 'What can I do?' It kind of overwhelms you."
The group decided to build a sanitation facility and latrines to help keep human waste from polluting the river and prevent water-borne illnesses.
"The river had extremely elevated levels of E. coli bacteria," Bailey says. "You wouldn't even want to touch it."