The drilling continues…

Coconut tree reflections and my favorite Chacos

I am an avid reader and have read some really fascinating books about the tribes in remote areas of New Guinea (The Peace Child is one of my favorite books). I am now reading a book, called Headhunter, about the Suki headhunters in this area of (Southwestern) Papua New Guinea, including the Arammba tribe that I am training. The Arammba men from Gowi have stories of their Grandfathers participating in headhunting, but that practice [mostly] stopped by the 70s (thankfully!). It is really cool to hear the men tell of how the Suki tribe (they say were the most fierce in this area) came to know Christ and stopped headhunting and eventually (years later) the gospel spread from clan to clan. The first explorers and missionaries to this area were incredible. I can imagine the exploration experience a little easier now that I’m here. The men are great story tellers and really enjoy being asked questions about their lives (past, present and future). During our long walks between villages, I’ve heard everything from intense stories about survivors of headhunter raids to funny stories of other foreigners who have come and failed to make a proper fire or couldn’t make the long walks because they would fall into the mud. The men are quite jovial and really enjoy telling me funny stories, usually pausing in the middle to have a big belly laugh as they recall their interactions with visitors.

We have clay soil and creative drillers – this is “Gwakee” at the second borehole in Kiriwa

Drilling and training with the Arammba tribe is going extremely well!

We moved on to a second location in Kiriwa. Hydromissions is providing enough PVC casing pipe for one well in each village, so I am training the men to search for the best location (best source of water) and, at the same time, meeting with the community (especially women) to make sure the locations are practical. Our second spot seemed better for water (from the surface indicators such as topography) and also better from a community perspective because it was pretty much equal distances from both sides of the village. The village is shaped like a “U” (as it surrounds the large grass airstrip) and the second borehole location was at the bottom of the “U.”

One of my Drill Team trainees, Jef, watches the borehole get bailed with his young son on his shoulders

I decided to add “fun” parts of training to the second borehole. After they drilled down about two and a half meters, I tossed in one of our drill bits and asked them to “fish” it out. Each time a tool was retrieved, I tossed in smaller and smaller items to retrieve until they got every tool we used out of the hole. It is likely that at some point, they will drop a drill pin, bit or rod into a hole so I wanted them to practice with me nearby. Their faces were quite shocked at first, but they enjoyed the exercise.

Drilling the second borehole in Kiriwa

The second borehole is 14.5 meters with a sandy bottom. Water is coming in better with the second one, so I had a quick meeting with the community and we all decided that the second borehole would be the one that would get the casing when the pipe came in by plane later in the week. We are still keeping the first borehole because it has water and is easy to pull with a bailer bucket. Even though the borehole will not have the PVC plastic casing it in, the clay soil keeps the borehole walls intact and the water is better for bathing and washing than the smelly creek water (their current source). The good thing about the clay soil here is that they can drill a bunch of boreholes (which won’t cost them anything but a little time and manual labor) and use that water for washing and cleaning.

After drilling the second borehole in Kiriwa, we spent a couple of days walking back and forth (10 miles, round trip) to Meru. Meru is another Arammba tribe village and home to about 100 people. Just like Kiriwa, Meru uses a creek as their primary water source. Also like Kiriwa, Meru residents dig shallow wells right near the creek to access water when the creek dries during dry season and droughts. I looked at the wells when I first arrived, both had collapsed during the rainy season. Basically, during the dry season, the men dig a large hole near the creek to reach water and the hole collapses each rainy season just to be dug our again in dry season. The soil near the creek is more sandy and not as stable. We picked a spot in Meru and over the course of two full days, drilled down 15.5 meters. The water was slow to come in at first, but we kept bailing and it increased. By the evening, the men bailed 80 buckets (each bailer bucket is about 3 liters of water).

We will sort out what wells to case as soon as we get some PVC pipe!

Please continue to pray for the drill team – these 33 guys are working hard and showing a lot of promise!

The baskets hanging under the house are holding sleeping babies
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4 thoughts on “The drilling continues…

  1. Thank you for taking the time to share your adventure, and not your head, with us! It is very interesting to learn how you can bring modern engineering knowledge to people who have no idea of what they can accomplish. Well done, Cait!

  2. Hope all is well!Prayers for you each morning during my beach walk!When you coming home? God’s Best Always/baf

  3. Love the stories and pictures Caitlin! It’s all so real and so important. God is using you greatly! Stay the course and continue to fight the good fight!! Blessings, John and Susan

  4. Thank you for the updates! The stories of how they came to GOD and stopped their headhunting is powerful testimony! Glad to see the fruits of your labors! GOD Bless and watch over you and your crew as you continue!

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