Traveling over four days was not fun, but we made it to Kiriwa!
I am traveling with three other people; Wayne, Belinda and Irene. Wayne and Belinda Bauman had been missionaries with the Arammba Tribe from 1996-2006. Irene is a nurse and the Bauman’s friend.
Requests come into Hydromissions for water projects from various people in different parts of the world. The requests are from both Nationals (people who are born/raised in the areas of the requests) and from foreigners who make requests on behalf of the National village. Belinda sent a request to Hydromissions to provide water to the Arammba tribe in Kiriwa, Western Province, Papua New Guinea. The Bauman’s had not been back to Kiriwa since 2007, but kept in touch with their Arammba “family” and knew their need for a year-long source of water. Even while the Bauman’s lived in Kiriwa, they understood the need for water during the dry seasons and lacked it themselves. Water wells for the village had been a prayer on the heart of the Bauman’s and the Arammba for many years.
The Arammba people were a nomadic tribe, originally, but were moved into settlement type regions in the 1930’s by the government. They settled near rivers and creeks (you need to be near water to survive). They live off the land. Every family has a garden where the main crop is yams. The yam houses where they store their harvest are like their savings accounts. They need those yams to eat and to trade for other goods. They also hunt boar, cassowary and deer, but those animals are saved for special occasions or for exchanges during marriage. There are many other smaller things they add to their diet… grubs, ants, mice, turtles, snakes, etc. They also grow greens, papaya, bananas, coconut and pumpkin. They are really talented farmers and will bring seeds from across the border (Indonesia) to try to plant new foods. The Arammba considered moving from Kiriwa during droughts (1997 and 2015) that had dried up their creeks and made life almost impossible, but were able to remain because the government sent food supplies by plane to help. The Arammba people will travel over the border (into Indonesia) to go to the markets for items they cannot grow. The trip to the border takes about three days of travel on bicycle.
I knew this project would be stressful because of the very real need for water wells, the difficulty of access to the village, sparse material, no markets that I could access and the expectations of people who had been trying to get wells for a long time. They told me they had reached out to drillers across the border and local governments, but their requests never received responses. From my research and information from the village, it seemed that the manual drilling I teach would work, but the risk was there. Ultimately, God knows where the water is and a lot of prayer goes into each project.
Each plane I boarded got smaller and smaller 🙂 Our final flight was with MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship). It was a Caravan that seated our four person team, three pilots (two were training) and one man that was dropped off at Lake Murray en route to Kiriwa.
It was raining when we landed in Kiriwa, but that didn’t stop the village from meeting us as we landed. The Arammba tribe met us with a beautiful ceremony. They made flower crowns, wore traditional grass skirts and decorated the path through the village with flowers.
It was so nice to be able to watch the Bauman’s interact with their Arammba family. It has been so long and they were all so happy to reunite. Irene and I could tell that there was a deep bound built over those 10 years that the Bauman’s lived in Kiriwa and raised their four kids.
I’ve got to tell you that the pressure I felt when I arrived increased with every greeting. When they have been waiting for water wells for so long and I fly in with a drill, expectations will soar.
The Arammba had organized the drill trainees as requested. Representatives from the four villages would learn how to drill. Everyone is of the same tribe – the Arammba- but they are scattered. The main village, Kiriwa, has the airstrip and about 300 people. The other villages, Meru, Setavi and Gowi are 5, 12 and 18 miles away, respectively. The plan is to train the men by drilling the first well in Kiriwa and then go to Meru (5 miles away) next and then on to Setavi (12 miles away).
The first night of sleep did not go very well, but that’s typical for a new place. I was really unprepared for the cold, damp weather and was very cold all night. Regardless, I was ready when the sun came up. One of the elders came up to retrieve me from the house. He came to the door and said “we have come for the engineer” and I looked outside to see about a dozen men outside. Waiting. Ready to find water. Expecting to find water because the engineer had arrived.
Wayne, Belinda and Irene joined me and the new drilling students as we walked around the village, looking for the best spot to start. Men joined along the way so when we finally picked a spot, we had gathered about thirty men. We picked a location that was favored by the community. The first thing I do, before drilling, is to gather around and pray. I know that the drillers were not all Christians, but they were respectful and my hope is that our time together will show them that God is real and really loves them.
Our first day of drilling and training went really well. We reached around 27’ deep and had an indication of water on the first day. We ended the day with a prayer of thanks and covered the hole. The second day, we reached 42’ and a 12.5’ column of water in the well!
At this point, the men are very pleased and I can feel them gain confidence in this “machine” that I brought from the States 🙂
We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are getting there. A plane will fly in soon that will carry the casing pipe we need for the wells. We could only get a few pieces of pipe delivered prior to our arrival so we will need to wait to case the well with PVC. I am continuing training and heading to a new village (Meru) soon.
The Bauman’s are making the most of their time here as they meet up with dear friends and share. Irene is loving her time interacting with the children in the villages and answering lots of medical questions. I’m grateful to have them with me. We didn’t know each other before this trip, but we have become fast friends.
Please pray for health for the team (sleeping conditions have not been easy on any of us), health for the drillers (I’m teaching them to lift from the knees … 😉 ), that the younger men I am training who don’t believe in Jesus will come to understand how much He loves them, that water will be found in all four villages and that the drill will continue to be a tool to provide for the physical needs of others as well as show them the love of Christ.