‘I want to make a difference’: Salford student engineer to take part in Borneo project

A Salfordian is heading to Borneo as part of a university project to help residents in the impoverished Sabah region.

22-year-old Jake Alley is in his fourth year of an engineering degree at the University of Newcastle, and will head to the South-East Asian country along with 19 peers in March.

Despite Borneo’s economy improving in recent times, the Sabah region remains a concern, with 20% of people living in poverty, and 23 ethnic groups represented.

Jake will be tasked with constructing a gravity-fed water system, as well as briefing locals on hygiene and sanitation.

And the student told MM that, whilst he still had to get a lot of university out of the way beforehand, he was excited to witness a completely different culture.

“I don’t think the realisation has fully kicked in yet as I’m currently in the thick of dissertation work and have only just finished my January exams,” he said.

“But from the images I’ve seen it looks like an amazing place, certainly nothing like I’ve seen before and the chance to visit an extremely rural and unattached community that only a handful of people will meet is a great feeling.

“The main reason I became an engineer was to be involved in projects which will influence multiple people’s lives

“Having the chance to see what kind of difference I can make to these people’s lives is something I can’t wait to see.”

The trip is organised alongside Raleigh International, and this will be the fourth year that the university has sent students to the area.

Each student has to raise £2400 to fund the trip, and Jake is hoping to source sponsorship by completing a run from Newcastle United’s St James’ Park to the Stadium of Light in neighbouring Sunderland.

But that hasn’t put him off signing up for a project that he admitted he’s had his eye on since his first year at the university.

“It’s a module which is completely different to any other I’ve heard of before and it’s an opportunity I know I will unlikely have again,” he said.

“Towards the end of the expedition we will be interacting with the community, particularly the younger members, to teach them about sanitation.

“We’ve been told that we will be the first westerners the children have seen in their life so I’m looking forward to see how they react when we meet them and talk to them.

“We’ve been told that the younger residents have to travel a considerable distance to the river to collect water for the community, so to see how they use our water system once it is implemented will be very intriguing.

“I think the main thing is learning how people interact within a culture which is completely different to one that I live in.”

Jake has set up a Crowdfunder page to help his raise money for the trip. To learn more, click here.

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