Muscatine Journal: Muscatine Native Making a Difference in Djibouti

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The theme of Engineers Week (February 16-22) 2014, “Let’s Make A Difference,” resonates with Andrew Temple, a Muscatine native and electrical engineer with Stanley Consultants.  As a young engineer he knows that his contributions to projects are important and valued, but rarely does he see an immediate impact as a result of his labors, like the one he experienced during a recent trip to Djibouti, Africa. 

Temple is currently part of a team working at Camp Lemonnier to map buried utilities, panels, manholes and vaults in order to document and record basewide utility assets.  During a trip to Djibouti last year, he had seen boys in impoverished neighborhoods trying to play soccer with balls made of rags.  “That’s when I realized that smallest luxuries we take for granted back in the states can be out of reach for people in other walks of life,” said Temple.  He decided that with a small act of kindness, he could make a difference in the lives of these kids. 

So when he recently returned to Djibouti he brought along six deflated soccer balls donated by Andres Leza, the men’s head soccer coach at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.  Then one Sunday he and several coworkers, including Senior Electrical Designer Jim Gavin, also of Muscatine,  went looking for kids in need of soccer balls.  They drove to a poverty-riddled neighborhood on the outskirts of Djibouti and found kids playing at the end of a long windy road.  Temple and  his coworkers stopped and began passing out bottled water and Gatorade.  “Immediately kids came out of nowhere and a small crowd formed.”  Everyone got Gatorade and the soccer balls were distributed evenly to different groups of kids, who were delighted and appreciative of the gifts.

“I think it was a humbling experience for all of us,” said Temple.  “It was just a modest gesture that didn’t require much work on our end.  But something so easy and simple to us really made a difference to the people who received the soccer balls.”