Farallon After Hours: Margaret Oscilia Helps Build a Better World

March 24, 2017


Farallon Project Engineer Margaret Oscilia spends her vacations a little differently than most.  In exchange for fresh tortillas, a cold beer on the beach, and a chance to connect with another culture, Margaret repairs roads and improves access to drinking water.  “I’ve always wanted to use my engineering skills and background to help people and the environment,” she explains.  “I’d been interested in Engineers Without Borders (EWB) for a while when finally, in 2015, I knew someone who was involved with the program.  No more than 2 months after I got involved, EWB had an opening for its trip to Honduras.” 

Honduras road work

Frequent flooding and erosion had closed down residential streets in the Honduran community of Guadalupe Carney, forcing the local people, including school children, to walk along the main highway, which resulted in many injuries and deaths.  In 2013, the Portland, Oregon Student Chapter of EWB helped the community construct bridges and culverts, and provided designs for community residents to construct additional culverts on their own.  After successful completion of the 2013 projects, the EWB Student Chapter lost touch with its Honduran contact. 

In January 2016, Margaret returned to Guadalupe Carney, this time with the Portland Professionals Chapter of EWB, to reconnect with the community and evaluate needs for additional assistance.  Portions of residential roads were still flooding and forcing people onto the main highway.  The community also requested help with its drinking water.  The nine wells in the 3,000-resident community were not being used because of the taste of the water, and only about half of the houses had access to other water sources. 

“The first experience definitely changed how I think about the world,” Margaret recalls.  “It helped me realize how much we all are alike, and to appreciate the beauty of our differences.”

Margaret is returning to Guadalupe Carney in May 2017.  On this trip, EWB will install a culvert and a ford crossing along a proposed bus route in the community, Margaret Oscilia EWBcollect data to design additional crossing improvements, test the quality of the drinking water, and evaluate the watershed for potential installation of an additional water reservoir.  Margaret explains, “By improving the crossings on the road with the proposed bus route, people will not be forced to walk along the main highway, which is far more dangerous for pedestrians.  Evaluating the watershed could lead to a new drinking water source so most houses in the community can have access to water.”

MargaretWhat excites Margaret most about her upcoming return to Guadalupe Carney?  “Catching up with friends I made on my trip last year, and also the tortillas!  And hopefully learning how to make them.  But ultimately, it’s the feeling of helping each other, working together, and making things happen that is the most satisfying.”

 Oregon Daily Journal of Commerce Article, April 2017


Engineers Without Borders – USA (EWB) is a nonprofit organization consisting of 15,900 international engineers that strives to build a better world through engineering.  Partnering with residents in communities throughout 45 countries, EWB members develop solutions to improve water supply, sanitation, energy, agriculture, civil works, and structures.