Tag Archives: community development

Lovely’s Goats

Melinda, John, Helene, Peter, Caitlin

The team made it back from Haiti!

Tired, but encouraged.

The goat program is really making a difference for the students. They are growing their herds, selling the males in the market to buy more females, taking pride in their work. It is such a wonderful sight to see a student walking 3 or 4 or 5 goats to us for their checkup.

This is a mama goat with her daughter and granddaughters

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Three Volunteers (and TWO video clips!)

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I can’t explain in words how hard it is to “walk” here. These logs get slippery, the mud is deep and the mangrove water smells awful when you fall into it (even though I am holding a shovel in this photo- using it as a walking stick – I still slipped off the logs and got full of mangrove awesomeness) 

I had three visitors this week! Sal arrived on May 10th and Jim and Kathy came in on May 13th. Sal left yesterday morning (May 17th) and Jim and Kathy will head out on May 20th.

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Kathy is back at Agua Dulce! Agua Dulce (“Sweet Water”) is the name of the Wood family property that we live at while working in this region. 

Sal and Jim after working with me and Simon (well, Simon and I worked while Sal and Jim just played in the mud 😉 ) 

Sal and Jim have teamed up with me and Simon in the field while Kathy has been working at Asilo and the preschool that Melissa (a super cool speech therapist from the States) started in partnership for the adjacent Ngobe village.

Before Jim and Kathy arrived, Sal, Simon and I worked in Buena Esperanza, Shark Hole and Valle Escondido. We installed a pump in the well mentioned in my last post – where Hortencio and his wife worked together to drill in Buena Esperanza. We also brought more medicine for little Elmer – the 3-year old child with the infected sores on his body. Please keep Elmer in prayer. The medicine is a temporary fix for the moment, but he needs prayer for overall healing of his little body.

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Hortencio’s family (Minelm, Hortencio with 6-year old son, Marlon) and Simon

We also installed a pump in the well for the birthing mothers and babies home in Shark Hole. This was Simon’s first well in Shark Hole which he drilled to support the birthing house.

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We started to install this pump about a week prior, but had the wrong schedule pipe. It was much nicer to install the pump without a downpour this time!

We continued to use Simon’s cayuco with Sal here, but once Jim came, we moved into a bigger boat. Three adults in the Cayuco is ok, but four just wouldn’t fit. Before the bigger boat, Sal got a fun (and literal) taste of the ocean. I have a little video of one of our commutes home from Shark Hole. The water isn’t usually this choppy, but Sal was a good sport and didn’t mind the extra salt-water shower he received en-route home.​​

​With the addition of Jim, we couldn’t fit in the cayuco so we borrowed one of Bobby’s larger boats. 

Look at how much room we have in this boat!

(side note about Simon’s boat: A friend commented on my last post about what we were doing to raise money for Simon to have a fiberglass boat. We don’t have an official fundraiser set up, but if anyone would like to donate specifically to Simon’s boat, you can hit the “donate” tab at the top of this website and it will bring you to Hydromissions donation page. There is a pull-down menu to direct the funds to my name. The funds will be sent to me here in Panama and I will direct them to the boat. A rough estimate at this point is $1700, of which we have received $400 so far).

With Jim and Sal now on our little team, we tackled some harder tasks that Simon and I couldn’t handle alone. We all worked in Valle Escondido. This was the community that I said should change their name to lots of hills! The community of Valle Escondido had a little spring that they were piping down into the homes in the mangroves. I had worked with Andy (healing fund team) to replace a broken water tank directly below the spring, but the spring itself needed some improvements. I really don’t like working with springs because they are hard to protect against contamination, but since they already had the spring and were using the water, I wanted to make improvements to their system. The two pictures sort of show a before and after. As you can see, its a muddy mess, so you can imagine we didn’t take our phones out much for photos.

“Before” Photo: I have the shovel in my hand in this photo, but Jim really did the majority of the digging and Sal worked hard to pull part of the metal material used to dam the water originally.

“After” Photo: Again, I look like I am working hard here, but I was just moving rocks and stabilizing our new wall. We used fiberglass as our little water dam.

It took us two days to finish the little spring improvements, but we also worked on rain catchment on those two days as well. We installed gutters/tanks on 5 houses total in those two days. I can’t really express how different it is to work here, so just see the photos of one of our gutter installs.

The teenage son of the homeowner was on the roof, pulling this “gutter” on, while Sal and I stabilized it.

 

It is a tight squeeze to slide these pipes onto the roof because we just cut one slice down the pipe. In this photo, Jim is hammering the pipe on as the teenager on the roof is keeping it in place. I also hammered, but once I missed the pipe for a third time, Jim said “three strikes and you’re out”

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Above is a photo of Nelson and his wife receiving a solar flashlight and a bible. We have worked with Nelson on five different days by this point and we had lunch at their house earlier this week (the first Ngobe family to invite us in for lunch). Simon had been sharing with Nelson that we did this work to glorify God and share His love with those we helped. I appreciate that Simon takes his time and builds a little relationship before handing out the bibles. I think the recipients value them more that way.

The last house we worked at was the furthest away from the main section of the community. It is the home of a single mom, Elia. I had two different projects planned for Elia (rain catchment and drilling a well), but we were only able to accomplish the rain catchment on Tuesday.

Today, Jim and I are returning with Simon to drill the well. It is difficult to work at Elia’s house because she lives so far away (about 25 minutes of HARD walking up/down slippery slopes) with just her children and elderly parents. Usually, with well drilling, we insist one having at least 3 volunteers, although 6 is ideal for well drilling. We bend our rules for certain scenarios and this is one of them. Elia can’t get volunteers because she lives so far from everyone else so we are just working on our own to help her and not making her search out volunteers. Hopefully the little middle school-aged boys that helped us carry equipment to Elia’s on Tuesday will help us again tomorrow!

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Our tiny crew! The little guy in the white/blue shirt to the left is Ismael. He quickly became my favorite little helper…probably because he relieved me when I was carrying the 55-gal drum 😉 

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The tank looks like it has a worried face, doesn’t it? I bet it is thinking that I am thinking of rolling it down the hill. Which I was absolutely thinking while carrying it down the hill. 

I am sorry if this particular blog felt a little hectic – this week of projects in three different communities has been a bit hectic! I hope that you all enjoyed the little videos – I had a meeting in Bocas town yesterday so I used a restaurant’s wifi to upload the videos.

 

 

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Simon’s Great Idea!

 

Last year, we went to a community called “Shark Hole.” The community was somewhat developed (relatively speaking) so, ultimately, we focused on a smaller neighboring community, Dejada, which had a more pressing need for water.

However, while we were in Shark Hole last year, we went to their birthing house (where the local midwife delivers the babies). The birthing house was situated on the top of a large hill, without easy access to water (something that is important when they are delivering babies and caring for the mothers). Most of the other homes in the community of Shark Hole were connected to a piping system that brought water from a creek above the community, but the location of the birthing house (high elevation) made it impossible to pipe water all the way to the building via a gravity system.

Spring/creek-fed water piping systems are really common in these Islands. I have seen many of these types of systems and the pipes are above ground and the majority of the lines are small diameter pipe (1″-down to- 1/2″) which makes it really difficult to move water long distances (up and down hills). Most of the systems I have seen are not working very well because of the size of the pipe (too small), broken pipe or not enough rain to feed the creek/spring into the pipe. Because this is the common (known) method of getting water, it is what everyone wants. It is familiar.

We have been trying to encourage wells in areas where a borehole well is the most appropriate technology. Some communities really like the wells, but some communities aren’t ready to try something different. Shark Hole was one of those communities that wasn’t ready to try something different.

Simon and I noted that he should try to drill a well to serve the birthing house and a few months later, he drilled them a well. The midwife was very happy, but it still wasn’t a method embraced by the majority of the community.

About a month ago, I returned to Shark Hole to check on the well Simon drilled. While there, the small group representing the community’s water system asked me for 90 pipes (approx $1,800) to add another creek (water source) into their central water system. They said that the existing creek didn’t produce enough water for the community and people were paying fees for their water even when the tanks were empty.

I have done a handful of spring catchment/pipeline projects over the years, however we do them in areas where our drilling equipment isn’t able to reach water. That wasn’t the case in Sharkhole.

Simon explained that we drill wells and we were willing to drill in their community (with volunteers). At that time, the water committee was unimpressed with the idea. They had their hearts set on more pipe (which, in such a hilly area, is complicated and costly). I was a wee bit disappointed, but it wasn’t a big problem. I felt bad saying “no” to buying them pipe, but we had other areas to help. However, Simon had some conversations with an older gentleman standing near the water committee. This older man, Pablo, saw the benefit of a well. He saw the well near the birthing house and said to Simon “I have water in a pipe to my house, but it does not always have water in it. I pay for the water even when I have no water. I see the well and I see the water. I think this is very good and I want one at my house.” Simon was super excited and shared with me that “No one wants a well in Shark Hole, but I know it is better for them. This old man wants a well. He knows it is good water. We can drill a well at his house and everyone will see and they will all want a well.” Of course I was on board with that idea!

Simon’s Cayuko that took us to Shark Hole

Last week, Simon and I returned to Shark Hole – to Pablo’s house. We drilled a well. It was hard because we didn’t have many volunteers. Really, just two young teenagers for the first 15′ and, after that, we got three more young teens to step in (who were just watching us) for the remaining 7′ of drilling. What we did get a lot of was bystanders. As we went deeper, people stopped to watch. At first I was nervous, but once we hit water – a great flow of water – I was really happy that we were being observed. Simon’s idea worked. He returned to Shark Hole to finish the casing installation and he said everyone wants a well. Simon explained that we would drill wells for clusters of homes (at least three homes would be sharing one well) and we would need at least 5 men to volunteer to drill the well.

Now, we have lots of support and lots of willing volunteers in Shark Hole!

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Plan “B”

Location of “Plan B”

Remember how we were slowly chipping away at the rocks in Butenga? Our daily routine looked like this: Drill, get stuck on a rock, hand-dig out the rocks, shovel them into a bucket to be dumped outside of the pit. Find softer soil, drop the drill into the pit (thinking that perhaps we had passed the final layer of rock), get stuck on another rock layer, take the drill out, grab picks and shovels, start digging rocks out again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. We progressed 15′ in 6 days. The work was exhausting, but the enthusiasm remained. Every man lowered into the pit worked like he would be the one to break through the rock once and for all.

When starting a project, we get as much information from locals as possible to determine if we should attempt drilling. Latrine pits in this area are very deep (50-70′) and give us a lot of information about the conditions underground. We had some data from latrine pits nearby where rock was not present. We also had encouraging information about a water spring near one of the pits dug for their surface water collection. With that information, we kept chipping away at the rock thinking we would reach water soon. Continue reading

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My Next 4 (0r 5) Countries

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South Sudan, 2011

In two weeks, I leave for an intense schedule of projects in Eastern Africa.

Am I ready?

Nope  😉    …but I will [have to] be in two weeks.

Uganda will be my first stop. I will be working with Washington, an awesome Ugandan national, who I trained with our drilling equipment in 2012. Washington has been drilling and managing latrine construction projects on behalf of Hydromissions for the past 4 years. We will be drilling two borehole wells – one in Butega village and one in Nyakadot village. At this moment I have funds for one latrine construction project for a school in Kiroza village, but if I raise more support, a primary school has been identified for another latrine project. The latrine projects require more material which makes them more expensive then the borehole wells.

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Walking to town, Uganda 2012. Washington is on my left, wearing the green shirt. I am guessing he is around 6’7″ – a massive man with a quiet disposition.

In addition to working with Washington, I will have two volunteers from the States for part of the time. This will be so nice! Besides the Gift a Goat project team (where we need 4-6 people), I spend most of my time traveling alone for the projects.

My first week will be with Jessica, a civil engineer grad from Rowan who has worked with me in Panama and El Salvador. Jess will assist in training national volunteers and checking on the well drilled in 2012.

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Patrick, Me & Jessica on our way home from our 2014 Panama project

When I drop Jess off at the airport, I will be meeting with John. John and I have worked together in Haiti on the “Gift a Goat” projects and he has worked on multiple bridge projects in Panama over the past couple of years. John will be working on borehole well drilling for two weeks.

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John, left, en route to Haiti with the Gift a Goat team in 2015

Another part of my travels will be visiting missionary friends serving in different regions of Uganda. The Rosser and Craig families serve for different ministries in appropriate technologies, education, well-drilling and farming. Jennifer, an amazing nurse, treats illnesses, responds to emergencies and, most recently, assists in many many births. I learn as much as I can from these visits and apply it to the training I provide in other communities worldwide. I am really excited to visit some of the Water for All drilling clubs started by the Rossers. The manual drilling method they use is different from Hydromissions, but I think it will be quite useful to incorporate in some communities – especially areas with harder subsurfaces.

Traveling to all the locations I have planned in Uganda will not be easy. The long bumpy buses will take up many days during my 5-weeks in country, but ultimately,  I will enjoy being back in “The Pearl of Africa.”

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Waiting for my bus/van to leave in 2012. Hawkers will sell you anything through the bus window – even a live chicken!

After Uganda (with a possible quick stop in Rwanda), I will be traveling to Ethiopia to train a team in drilling, pumps and hygiene education, Kenya to visit former projects and teach pumps and Malawi to train borehole well drilling, pumps and hygiene education. Total time will be about 2 months for all of these projects.

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My 4 scheduled stops so far (with Rwanda as my possible 5th)

I will update you all as much as possible throughout the course of these projects!

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Open the Faucets!

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Our first water tower in San Antonio (on the left) was concrete and about 4m high. The new one is metal and the platform is about 9.5m high.

Water is running in San Antonio!

The new community water tower is complete!

Four years ago, the government provided plans and laid pipe alongside the dirt roads of the community so each household would be able to access the waterline. Unfortunately, the plans and piping were all the government had provided at the time. The community needed a water tower and tank in order to actually get water to each house. Continue reading

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Filed under Guatemala, Hydromissions

Panama Mud

 

It has been nearly a week since I left Panama. It was a long and difficult project, but the outcome was good. A well was drilled on Isla Tigre, a toilet installed for Simon, a pump repaired for Viviana’s community well and the 2,400′ pipeline bringing water to the school and mangrove houses was complete. During my last week, I was able to work with the community to install the septic tank, leach tank, leach ditch and piping associated with the toilet and shower drain for Justa, the schoolteacher. The community was left with the tasks of pouring the concrete floor (which they completed on Saturday) and building the bathroom enclosure (hopefully to be complete on their next community work day).

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Water flowing into the last cluster of houses in the mangroves

 

I am excited to see how far we have come with the fundraiser!

$15,000 raised of our $20,000 goal!

I have switched over to a new platform provided by Indigogo called Generosity. The campaign has the same perks (rewards), however I am able to extend the end date. I am hoping that we can raise the remaining $5,000 over the next two weeks and conclude this campaign around mid-December. If you would like to share, please copy this link for Gift a Goat & More! 

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75% to our goal!

Below are some photos/stories from Panama:

“The unwanted houseguest”

I am not usually grossed out by bugs/spiders/etc. I am only really jumpy around snakes (ugh, I hate snakes). Anyway, this cockroach was hanging out in my bathroom one morning. Continue reading

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