Finished plant group

Pay it forward - how your support goes further

Thanks to the support of a Cascade grant in 2016, mechanical engineering student Rene set off on a trip to Ghana that would change his perspective on life.

The task was to work with four fellow student volunteers and the local community to construct an ecological composting toilet in a rural village location. After successfully completing the project and returning to University, Rene felt so passionate about the experience of volunteering abroad that he wanted to give others the same experience. So he began co-ordinating a new volunteering project.

“The volunteering trip to Ghana had a huge effect on me − it just opened my eyes. I learned so much about other cultures and ways of living, and I grew a lot in confidence. I felt like this was something others should have the opportunity to experience too.”

“I knew that in many places in Africa, cooking is done with an open fire or on a poorly ventilated stove inside the home. The air pollution the families are exposed to can lead to a range of health problems.

“So we applied for Cascade funding to send five student volunteers to the village of Belo in Cameroon, working with a local NGO and the local community to build a biodigester – a tank which digests organic material biologically to produce clean gas that can be used for cooking.”



Rene co-ordinated the volunteers but had no intentions of travelling to Cameroon himself. “I wanted to give the opportunity for others to experience what I had had in Ghana. The experience of managing volunteers helped me develop a totally different set of skills.”

Andreas (Chemical Engineering, 2018) was one of the five volunteers who travelled to Cameroon. 

“One of the most shocking experiences I had, was when I visited one of the houses in the village. People were burning wood to cook inside their house with no ventilation.It was like being inside a house that was on fire. It was so difficult to breathe. The walls were black from the carbon soot.

“The biodigester was a potential solution to this. Pig’s waste can be converted into biogas, which can be used for cooking in a much safer and healthier way. This project was very beneficial for my career − it ignited my passion for sustainability and international development, which is what I’m currently doing professionally.

Carrying Construction material

“Thank you for your kind donations. Your help made this inspiring project happen.” 


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