Jason Blechta

Jason Blechta

“I am driven to contribute to a world where all people, no matter where they are born, experience equal rights to water, food, education and dignity.”

After a chance meeting with a recently returned Engineers Without Borders (EWB) overseas volunteer at a dinner party in Ottawa, Jason Blechta was immediately intrigued. While his degree in Engineering made the organization seem like a natural fit, it was the passion for creating change in the people he met that night that excited him.

“They immediately welcomed me into the group and from that moment on, I knew I would be an active member of this organization that seemed so committed and intelligent about international development and engaging the Ottawa community in how it can be a part of the solution,” says Jason.

Jason has not wavered in his active commitment as a part of the EWB team since that night five years ago. Since 2008 Jason has taken initiative both locally and internationally. He has been deeply engaged in giving a great deal of time and energy to the organization. Initially contributing as an event coordinator in the Ottawa chapter of EWB, Jason quickly took it upon himself to implement a Workplace Outreach Program where he facilitated “lunch and learn” sessions about EWB’s work and international development issues to local companies. He became the president of the Ottawa chapter of EWB with the intention of becoming more engaged and helping shape the organization’s direction and focus.

Driven to become more deeply involved in EWB’s programs, in 2010 Jason was selected for a Professional Fellowship and completed a four month placement at a veterinary college in the village of Pong-Tamale in northern Ghana. Jason worked with EWB’s agricultural extension team on an “Agriculture as Business” strategy. The project focused on encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit in the students and the curriculum to motivate students to be job creators upon graduation, instead of relying on the limited number of government positions. Students graduated with the knowledge and skills to be agribusiness entrepreneurs that improve their own livelihoods and those of the farmers that they serve.

Channeling his relentless dedication to strengthening the organization, upon his return from Ghana Jason created the first chapter-driven African Programs Support team, which aims to improve the recruitment, training, overseas support and reintegration support for the Ottawa chapter of EWB. The success of the program has strengthened the work of the team in Ottawa; all of the returned volunteers trained by Jason’s support team are still active members of EWB.

While working full time, Jason continues to dedicate his energy and initiative to EWB, motivated by the belief that his efforts will have a positive impact. “A collection of small thoughtful actions eventually add up to a huge difference,” he says.

Engineers Without Borders Canada is a movement of professional engineers, students, overseas volunteer staff, and supporters across Canada that creates opportunities for rural Africans in Zambia, Malawi, Ghana and Burkina Faso to create positive change in their lives.

Read more about the other 2013 Global Changemakers here.

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