We spent days drilling in this location. We pulled countless buckets of the same exact soil…for meters and meters. It never changed. While I was getting frustrated in how long it was taking and how slow our progress was God was working out all the kinks in the operation. We ended up making some changes in how to operate the instrument and since we had to lift out such a long length of extensions (which can be very heavy) we really perfected the system in which we exchange extensions and secure the drill from falling into the bore hole.
National Host checking the drill bit
We hit rock around 18 meters (approx. 59 feet). At first we thought we could bust through the rock so we went back to the Bazaar to purchase pipe collars for some iron pipes that the host had on-site. We used a hardened steel end cap that was cone-shaped with a defined sharp point. The cone was welded to the end of one of the pipes and the whole thing was slowly lowered down the hole. This procedure took a long time to complete. We had to shop for the items, weld the parts and then lower one length of pipe down the hole, lock it into position, attach another piece of pipe, lower down the hole and repeat until we hit the bottom. At that point, the entire piece (nicknamed “the cracker”) was raised and dropped and then struck with a large hammer in an attempt to break the rock. We thought we broke the rock but once we pulled everything out and then dropped the drill bucket back into the hole, we were unable to retrieve any pieces of the rock. At that time, we were not sure how big it was, if we had in fact broken it or only penetrated the earth beside the rock. It was decided the next day to try to increase the size of the bore hole. We had multiple bits on location. The two standard bits provided a borehole that was 6” in diameter. The other bit – a prototype – provided a 7” hole. We decided to re-drill the entire depth of the hole with the large bit in an attempt to open up the hole to the side of the rock. When you drill to the depths that we went, the hole has a tendency to curve slightly. The drill follows the path of least resistance and since each extension is attached at 3’ intervals, it is hard to control when the drilling is 50’ below you. We thought that the large bit might dig a straighter hole and maybe, by doing so, we would slide to the side of the rock.
Steve holding large prototype bit
During one of our afternoons, we found that progress would be delayed until the following day because our national host, the main pupil for our training, had to move out of his current apartment. One of the american hosts offered to drive us up to his village so we could evaluate the surroundings as a possible location for drilling. The trip to Panjakent was amazing. The terrain was so diverse – it was so cool! We drove around snow capped mountains, along villages comprised of small stone houses built into the side of hills, thru tunnels [that would be condemned here in the States!], and along rapid rivers fed by the melting ice caps. It was a long (6 hr) bumpy awesome ride! We evaluated the area around Panjakent and found that the soil was full of rocks – too many for the drill to handle – but the swift moving river water was perfect for some hydroelectric pump alternatives. We woke up pre-dawn the next morning to drive back toDushanbe. We arrived back in Dushanbe by 11am to continue with drilling and pump work. Below are some pictures from the trip to Panjakent.
Landslide Tunnel Compliments of China
We traveled around the village teaching our hosts how to pick appropriate locations for the wells. The village was larger then I had expected and had a trench system along each street that brought water from a large canal into the village. The water was all runoff water so it is grossly contaminated. It was good to see that the villagers were boiling their water but it will be better for them in the future when they can pull the water from the wells. Hydromissions knows they cannot fix everything- Hydromissions’ goal is to improve a village one step at a time. Currently, the village is pulling runoff water from ditches. Within the year, they will hopefully have 12 wells pulling water that will be cleaner – although may not be perfect. Theoretically, if the runoff water has to penetrate through 18 meters (approx. 59 feet) of soil before finding its way into the well (worse case scenario) then it will have been filtered through those 18 meters. If all goes better, a clean water aquifer will be located within the 30 meters (approx. 100 feet) depth that the drill can reach. Either way, the water will be better then their current source. I had to learn to accept different things on this trip. I had to accept the fact that my agenda is not important and I had to serve the host organization I was there to teach. I had to accept the fact that we cannot “save the world” but only improve it a wee bit. Tajikistan was a lot different for me to serve in then Guatemala but I learned a lot and I value every experience God brings me through. I had to be patient in Tajikistan and accept that things were not always going to go my way no matter how much effort I put into it. I know God sees a much broader plan and knows far more then I can ever imagine but sometimes when I am in the rough situations, I easily forget that He is in control. I wanted certain things to come out of this project – I wanted to hit water, complete multiple wells and really do an “awesome job” based on the standards I set for myself and this project. I had to stop myself halfway through the project and focus on figuring out what God had me there to do and pull my focus off of what I wanted to do. I can look back now and see that I need to enter into these types of projects focusing solely on what the host needs and not on my own agenda.
The couple lived in a small mud house with a courtyard area that housed their animals, garden, water filtration jugs and cooking area. When I say “water filtration” – I mean, sediment settling jugs. Basically, they take water from trenches along the road, place them in jugs for a day, allow the dirt and heavy sediments to settle to the bottom, pour the “clean” water into another jug and then allow time to settle again. This process is performed over and over until most of the water is clear and then the clearer water is boiled before drinking. We all drank the water. The source of the water made me sick to my stomach but thankfully, the water itself did not.
Once in the Shaartuz area, we met with an elderly couple who were very excited to be involved in the project to bring wells to their village. This particular couple are friends of our national host, who will be running the Shaartuz well drilling project. Our national host, the elderly couple and a handful of the host’s family members are the few Christians in the village. There is persecution for these known Christians in Tajikistan but they hope they can show love to their neighbors by being a key helper in providing cleaner water to the entire community.
The following are a series of photos showing the construction of the lift pump. We had access to a welder and used it to make the valve for the lift pump.
After we finished construction of the pump, we headed to the little village outside of Shaartuz to check out the possible locations for the 12 wells that our Host is going to construct. We traveled along rolling hills but the closer we got to Afghanistan, the more dry and arid the terrain became. We stopped at a “rest stop” along the way…not quite the kind we have here in the States…no Star Bucks or Cinnabon but there was a half-broken down structure and hole.