Engineering big change

Toby HusseyAlbany Advertiser
Denmark engineer Philip Gehrmann will do charity work in India this month.
Camera IconDenmark engineer Philip Gehrmann will do charity work in India this month. Credit: Toby Hussey

Philip Gehrmann wants to make a difference.

The engineer who works in Denmark, 26, will head to India this month with 20 other volunteers to help poor families connect with life-changing technology.

Working with Australian charity Pollinate in Bangalore, he will try to help slum communities get a step up from poverty by improving access to products such as solar lanterns, fridges and fans, improved stoves and water filters.

Since it formed seven years ago, Pollinate has reached hundreds of thousands of people in India and Australia, and a recent merger with a Nepalese charity is set to see that figure increase.

Many of those it aims to help earn less than $3 a day, and Mr Gehrmann said his help could be life-changing.

“(Many use) kerosene for lighting and cooking, which as well as being environmentally harmful, is costing them a lot,” he said.

“Pollinate was founded with the idea that there was a lot of technology that could be applied to these communities to help them improve their living situations.”

The charity claims its programs have seen a 90 per cent reduction of households in its target areas using kerosene as their main energy source, and have increased time for important poverty-breaking tasks such as studying.

It will not be the first time Mr Gehrmann has gone out of his way to help others.

The ex-army combat engineer had a stint in Kenya when he was 19, helping direct donations, before later raising $1500 for Cancer Council WA with a solo bike ride from Albany to Perth.

He is hoping to raise $4000 for Pollinate, all of which will go towards continuing the charity’s work.

So far, he has raised more than half that target.

“We are paired up with one of the Pollinators in Bangalore and go out to the community to get an understanding of what they’re doing, sit down and ... work out solutions they can implement,” he said.

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