Gabriela Nicoleti de Freitas is from Brazil and is studying for a Master’s in Sanitary Engineering. Gabriela’s father was a civil engineer who helped people who had problems with water supply and this inspired her to work and to study in the field of water. Gabriela was always interested in working at an international organization, such as the United Nations. At IHE Delft, both came together. Gabriela about IHE Delft: ‘’IHE Deft is a very unique place where cultures come together. The people I can share experiences with are the very ingredient that makes the time here so sweet.’’
Gabriela talked with alumni of IHE Delft that had a Rotary scholarship and was motivated to apply for the scholarship to study at IHE Delft.
Where did her passion for water come from?
My initial inspiration to become a civil engineer and, now, to pursue a specialization in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) was embodied by a late-night phone ringing. In my early years, my father, a civil engineer himself and employee of the state sanitation company, had to be periodically available on-call to resolve water and sewage systems’ malfunctions. The resulting interruption of my sleep seemed an unnecessary torment. However, as I matured and experienced the outcomes of poor water and wastewater management myself, I grew empathetic to the people on the other end of the line. Yet, those were fellow citizens who, apart from sporadic interruptions, had access to safe water and sanitation practically secured. To later learn that more than two billion people worldwide remained deprived of such basic services turned the ringing from my infancy into a much more poignant version, calling me out to my career purpose.
About water issues in Brazil
‘’When we think of Brazil, we think of water, with the Amazon, we are the country with the largest resource of water. The problem is that water is very unevenly distributed. As Brazilians we keep the illusion that we have infinite water supply, but the water distribution is not good in Brazil. The politicians are not interested in water and sanitation. The population is lacking awareness of the importance of these kinds of investments. These investments are not that visible and take time to show impact. We insist on searching for new sources of water instead of thinking of how to prevent pollution and make the best use of what is already available.’’
‘’I hope to get a PhD to continue my career as a professor in Academia doing research in Brazil and also other parts of the Global South.’’
What do you think about IHE Delft and Delft
‘’I fell in love with the city of Delft, it is a small and beautiful city. I feel safe and welcome in Delft, there is a lot of history.’’ While the old streets, canals and churches tell the history of the past, places like IHE are writing the tale of the future.
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