Building a children’s hospital in Rwanda is part of Martin Skilbred plans for the next couple of years. He is leading the project through Engineers Without Borders and is travelling to Rwanda in April for an initial site visit.
Improving the existing infrastructure for a maternity clinic in rural Tanzania by establishing a more reliable power and water supply. Constructing Tanzania’s first stand-alone emergency department with solar cells and battery storage.
Those are just a couple of the projects Martin Skilbred has been involved in as a volunteer with various NGOs such as Engineers Without Borders and Involve Aid.
On a daily basis, he is project manager in the Industry business unit in COWI in Sweden. But since 2014, he has done volunteer work on several hospital projects in East Africa.
“It’s very rewarding and educational to work in other parts of the world under completely different conditions than what we’re used to. It feels good to use my skills to create other benefits than usual,” says Martin.
Now, he is heading a new project, backed by Engineers Without Borders, aiming to construct a new hospital in the suburbs of Kigali, Rwanda.
“After several discussions with Therance Ndsinga, a former classmate at Chalmers, we decided to build a children’s hospital. There is will and there is a need,” says Martin Skilbred.
Therance Ndsinga lives in Kigali and masters the local language Kiswahili, so the project is strongly embedded in the local community, which makes everything easier.
Martin heads the three-person project team from Engineers Without Borders. The project is in its preliminary phase where the team is working on a preliminary study. On 27 April, the project team will travel to Kigali to meet with the customer and to study the conditions they will be carrying out the project under.
During their stay, they will meet with the local municipality and visit two children’s hospitals. The ambition is to have part of the hospital be used for educational activities, so they will also visit an elementary school.
The preliminary study will form the basis for the design and the construction of new health and educational activities. The preliminary study will clarify the needs and the social benefits as well as engineering options. The study will also secure a structure for the financial basis for the project.
“It’s cool to get the chance to use my competencies on projects outside Sweden. They don’t have the same sets of rules and structures that we have, so it’s mainly a matter of solving a problem in the best possible way, given the circumstances. Often, we’re facing completely different challenges than what we’re used to in Sweden," says Martin.
The budget for the new hospital project is yet to be decided. Not until the preliminary study is completed will a budget be prepared, and private funds and actors are expected to finance the project execution. COWI is among the sponsors.
Through his commitment, Martin sees clear synergies between working on projects in Sweden and abroad. For COWI, he is currently working with electric power supply for Göteborg Energi, a solar cell system in Kongo-Kinshasa and teaches maths and physics at a polytechnic school in Varberg.
“It’s great to have such a broad professional profile – that’s one of the strengths of being a consultant. Weekdays, I work on major industrial projects in Sweden, and evenings and weekends I work with hospitals in Africa.”