By Carlos J. Lazo
Lions, zebras, giraffes and… reservoirs?
Not the typical vacation itinerary, but for one engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District, that's exactly what his trip to Africa will cover. For Brian Poole, the assistant resident engineer at the Corps' Sacramento District Valley Resident Office, taking work with him on vacation is actually a plus.
For two weeks in June, Poole will be part of a group of civil engineers and surveyors who will assess Daystar University College's reservoir just outside of Nairobi, Kenya.
"I'm just so excited," said Poole. "Just the opportunity to go and be able to use my engineering to help -- I'm thrilled."
The university wanted their reservoir surveyed, looking to expand their water capacity to capture more runoff in the spring for the school and surrounding population. Engineering Ministries International, a non-profit Christian development organization, worked with the university to help find a team of professionals needed to accomplish this request.
Poole is familiar with the organization from his years attending California State University-Sacramento.
"There was a big job fair back in 2001 -- a big job fair -- the ballroom is full of all the agencies, the Corps of Engineers and the Bureau, and all the state agencies are all there," said Poole. "I see just above all the booths and against the far wall -- Engineering Ministries International. So I went straight to them, and I have been watching them for a long time."
For those two weeks in June, Poole and the group from EMI will be going out to the university's 300-acre Athi River campus and surveying the location, assessing the current water storage capabilities and looking to see if an increase to capacity is possible.
"We take [water] for granted here," said Poole, "We have so much water sometimes that we don't know what to do with it. Other places in the world, it's hard."
During his time working on the university's needs, some of Poole's family will close by helping in their own way.
"My wife is a pharmacist for UC-Davis medical center and she works at an AIDS/HIV clinic," said Poole. Last year, Poole's wife encouraged her resident to study abroad and ended up going to Kenya herself. She planned a similar trip this year, working at a hospital in the area and traveling to camps in rural areas to provide patient care. The couple's 15-year-old daughter will also travel with them, joining Poole's wife for her work.
"This year, I said, 'I want to go.' I don't know what I can do but I want to go," said Poole.
Poole began attending meetings with his wife in preparation for the trip. During one such meeting, a physician asked Poole about his experience and asked if it would be possible for him to oversee building a house for medical care providers.
The house building fell through, "so I went to the website for the EMI," said Poole. As it turned out, EMI was organizing a trip to Kenya during the same time as his wife's trip. Working with the organization, Poole soon had his own project.
Following his two weeks at the university, Poole with join his wife and daughter and travel to the camps. For their last three days in Kenya, the family plans to go on a safari.
Although his vacation will be filled with work, Poole is still looking forward to the trip, and for what his contributions can provide the university.
"At the end of the trip -- I'm hoping to have good data so that somebody can make some decisions regarding water storage," said Poole. "We hope to be able to answer a lot of questions so that we can figure out what forward looks like."