This year we will have a new monthly recurring topic: Team Member Spotlight.
We want to give you an opportunity to learn a little more about the people behind BTGA, along with some of the reasons we are excited they joined. For our first Team Spotlight, we interview BtGA's new In-Country Director, Matthew Bowser and his wife Débora, who is an Erosion Technician for BtGA. The Bowsers arrived in Kenya this month and are ready to get started making a difference in their new roles.
1. What is your personal philosophy?
M: “Find the things in life that you are not good at, and don’t do them” a quote from the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World. I enjoy new challenges in life and appreciate finding things that I excel at; however, I am also very comfortable with my limitations.
D: “If you think you are too small to make a difference trying sleeping with a mosquito” Dalai Lama.
2. Where were you born? Where are you from?
M: I was born in New Westminster and grew up on Canada’s west coast.
D: I was born in a city located in the Brazilian Rainforest. I have dual citizenship: Brazilian and Canadian.
3. Where did you graduate? What did you study? Any certifications?
M: I have a Diploma of Civil and Structural Engineering from BCIT and received my B.A.Sc. and M.A.Sc. in Civil Engineering from the University of Waterloo. I am a registered Professional Engineer in the Canadian Provinces of British Columbia and Ontario.
D: I attended the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada from 2011 to 2017. I graduate from a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 2015 and a Master of Environmental Science in 2017.
4. What three traits define you?
M: Débora says I am blond, handsome, and tall.
D: I am organized, hardworking and fun.
5. Favorite book/movie?
M: My favourite movie is Schindler’s List, it inspires me to be a better person and to use my skills in a way that provides social change.
D: Favourite movie is Forest Gump, the thing I appreciate most about this movie is that you can find yourself in the most precarious situations and still make the most of it.
6. What are you most looking forward to?
M: The first two nights camped out at each bridge build… by the third night I am sure reality will hit.
D: To put my education to good use.
7. What drew you to BTGA and how has BTGA changed has since joining the team?
M: I am passionate about helping people and enjoy designing and building bridges… BtGA provides an incredible opportunity to combine my passion and profession. In the 5 years since I joined the BtGA Team I am particularly proud that we have compiled an incredible Technical Advisory Committee and that we have developed our own BtGA Suspension Bridge design that is detailed specifically for Kenya.
D: What initially drew me was Matthew. He started to talk about BtGA at home some years ago but at the time I had no interest as I am not an engineer. When Harmon Parker came to visit us in 2015 he mentioned that erosion was a problem around the bridge sites. Now, being a plant/soil person that peeked my interest right away. When we came to Kenya in 2016 I realized if we were to move here I could be useful to the organization by developing and implementing a programme to reduce bridge scouring at the bridge sites.
8. What is your wish list for the organization in the next 5 years?
M: My hope is that 5 years from now BtGA has a Kenyan Engineer that is able to manage bridge projects from start to finish including community engagement, design, and construction supervision.
D: To grow and reach as many communities as possible not only in Kenya but other neighbouring countries as well.
9. What is the favorite part about working for BTGA?
M: I get to work with amazing people in a beautiful place.
D: The people you meet along the way.
10. Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
M: While am very content drinking wine from a mason jar I also have a great appreciation for fine English China.
D: As a child I used to light tarantulas on fire…there was a good reason for it, which I am happy to explain over a beer.