10 Reasons to Work with EWB

A new round of overseas applications is open. It’s time to get thinking about applying. We could use more great people over here. If you’re reading this, that probably means we could use you. You don’t have to be an engineer to apply. So get on with it.

In the spirit of the season then, I thought I should explain why I think a job overseas with EWB is one of the best things out there, and why I think more people should come here and join us. And I figured why not do it through pictures. Hope it works.

As a disclaimer, I’m only talking about Malawi, because that’s where I live. But I can assume most of this applies to Zambia, Burkina Faso, and Ghana too. Actually I know most of this applies to Zambia because I lived and worked there in 2007. So wherever you might want to end up working with EWB, Malawi or not, start getting excited. Anyways, 10 reasons to work overseas with EWB.

1. Meet Incredible People

1. Meet Incredible PeopleThis is me with Mr. and Mrs. Moritia. They hosted me for two weeks in a village near Thaboni, in southern Thyolo District. During that two weeks they were the most amazing hosts I could ever ask for. They cooked me great food, introduced me to other people in the village, talked to me when I was bored, gave me space when I seemed to need it, and taught me about their life. It was incredible. From the beginning Mrs. Moritia was referring to me as “Mwana Wanga”, “My Child”, and she really lived up to it. I still go back and see them every chance I get.

2. Experience a New Culture

2. Experience a New CultureThis picture is of a Gule Wamkulu dancer, performing in a village in rural Chikwawa. Dances like this are a ubiquitous part of Malawi’s culture. The drumming and singing is really fun too. A tourist once told me that she was really upset because she’d heard of these dances, but hadn’t managed to see one. In my head I told her that’s why she should come live here for a while instead of just passing through.

3. See a Beautiful New Country

3. See a Beautiful New CountryThis photo was taken on the coast of tiny Chizumulu Island, population 3,000, nestled in the heart of Lake Malawi. The island is only accessible by a ferry that comes twice a week, but it’s well worth visiting. I’ve been to few places more beautiful and relaxing in my life. And it’s only one on a list of amazing places worth exploring in Malawi, and in the surrounding countries.

4. Be Part of Interesting Work

4. Be Part of Interesting Work

This photo shows a volunteer work crew fixing a broken pipe on a gravity fed water scheme in rural Thyolo. We didn’t have any pipe couplers, so they lit a fire, melted one pipe, and jammed the other one inside of it to make a bell socket. The guy on the left, Mr. Chiwaya, is now pulling out the one pipe, while the guy next to him cools the socket end with a wet cloth. Just like that, a bell socket. Working with these guys was really fun, and for a while every day was an adventure.

5. Try New Things with New Friends

5. Try New Things With New Friends

This photo shows me learning to cook nsima, with my neighbour and friend Jackline Damaso supervising. Just one of the many cool new things I’ve gotten to try since coming here. Yesterday Jackline and I were talking, and there’s a chance that in November I’m going to travel to her farm in southern Chikwawa and help her with the harvest. The conversation was all in Chichewa, so I’m a bit hazy on the details, but it seems the journey will involve a minibus, a bike taxi, a boat, another bike taxi, and then some walking. Sounds like an adventure in the making. Wish me luck.

6. Work with Great Co-Workers

6. Work With Great Co-WorkersIn the above photo is Mr. Banda, one of the Water Monitoring Assistants I worked closely with in Thyolo, posing next to a tap on a gravity fed water scheme. It’d be hard to find a more positive spirited guy, and he’s also a pretty smart and capable field worker. The two of us spent day after day ripping around rural Thyolo on our motorbikes, meeting with tap committees, trying to sort out problems, and generally having a good time. In the field, there was never a dull moment.

7. Push Your Comfort Zone

7. Push Your Comfort ZoneOn one of my first nights in the village, this is where I slept. At first I wasn’t sure if I’d sleep a wink. After a bit of trying though I got used to it, and slept like a baby. My current bed is quite similar, except it’s only half this size. I’m actually getting jealous looking back. Just one of the many ways an OVS placement can push you. You’re not forced into any of this stuff, and everyone sets their own limits, but if you want it, it’s there. If reed mats aren’t for you, there’s a million other ways to push your comfort zone too. Malawi is a great place to be, but the challenges here are also bigger than anything you can get in Canada. Embracing those challenges is one of the best parts of this experience.

8. Do Some Stuff You Really Don’t See Coming

8. Do Stuff You Don't See Coming On the right is Melissa Lefas, a former EWB co-worker of mine, and obviously a friend too. In front her, kind of obscured by bad lighting, is our friend Salim. On the left, rocking the editing software, is our friend Max. Together we’re recording a hip-hop track. Owen Scott on guitar, keyboard, and vocals. Salim and Melissa also on vocals. Max spittin’ rhymes and mixin’ tracks. It actually came out pretty well too. Maybe I’ll share it sometime. This is the side of things that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, hidden behind tales of village stays and rural living. In truth, Malawi is a very dynamic place. There’s all kinds of interesting and unexpected stuff to do. You just have to get over here to find some of it.

9. Reflect and Grow

9. Reflect and GrowNo job that I can think of will offer you more opportunity for personal reflection and growth than this one will. No job will offer you with better coaching and mentoring. And no job will offer you more better opportunities to apply that personal growth to new and challenging situations on a real-time basis. This alone makes it worth putting in a few years. Seriously.

10. Make a Difference

10. Make a Difference

Finally we come to the end. The root of things. The foundation. This is what it’s all about. Trying to make a difference for people in Malawi. Trying to create a world of opportunity. Trying to limit the burden of carrying water for women. Trying to limit the burden of preventable water borne disease for children. Trying to help improve water supply in rural Malawi. Trying to help Malawi become more prosperous, with healthy and empowered people leading their own development.  This is what we’re working on, hand in hand with Malawian partners, co-workers, and friends. It’s not easy, and you don’t always see the results, but the dream is still enough to keep us going. There’s no better reason to be over here than that. See you soon.



  1. Great post Owen!! Love the use of the photos, and I think that If I come over to Malawi you've gotta feature me on your next track!!!

    Hopefully I'll see you soon!!!

    take care!

  2. Owen, Mina! We can't have you two collaborating.. how could you achieve impact as multi-million-dollar platinum-selling hip-hop stars? ;<

  3. Oh WatSan is alive! I hope to hear more from the amazing work going on in that sector! Perhaps I might even join in a few years.

  4. Thanks for sharing Owen! I hope we get some more great people applying.