Anthropology student reflects on experiences in Kenya.

As a fourth-year anthropology student here at Montana State, Jonah Barta is more than just a typical student. Originally from Polson, Mont., a full credit load keeps him busy, yet he also finds time to be active in Engineers Without Borders (EWB).

EWB is a student run organization that is composed of students from many different majors.  A few of Barta’s roles in EWB are fundraising and grant writing. All of their projects require major funding and monetary support from the community and he heads up that committee.  As an anthropology major, Barta likes to interact and work with the Bozeman community to gain their support.

Barta has worked with EWB to build water and sanitation facilities at primary schools in Western Kenya. During this summer’s trip, the students worked on a project to implement a borehole for a local school so the students could have fresh water. The EWB students lived with local families and promoted community involvement with the project.

The EWB students were not only helping provide the community with water, but also depended on the community to supply them with food and housing. Barta said, “I learn a lot while I am there. It’s equally beneficial. We get as much from them, as they get from us.”

EWB works year-round to spend part of their summer overseas. Due to some issues from the Kenyan government, Barta’s team was a little behind schedule this summer. After figuring out the problems, the team got to work with the borehole and at roughly 230 feet (70 meters), they finally hit water.

When Barta is not overseas, he loves to ski and rock climb. In high school, he raised Emus from eggs. He would hatch them and then sell them to local consumers. Next summer, he hopes to stay and work in our local community with the Big Sky Youth Empowerment Program.

While Barta appreciates the value of working in Kenya, he also sees the need in Bozeman and in Gallatin County and hopes to be able to impact lives a little closer to home.