Tag Archives: manual drilling

The Final Days

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Saying Goodbye is always hard

I am sitting in the airport in Panama City, waiting to be called to board.

This last week and a half has been busy. Simon drilled another well and installed two hand pumps. I closed off a large sanitation project at Asilo (a home for the elderly/disabled on the main island).

I am excited to see my family and friends back in the States, but saying goodbye to my Panama-family and friends is still sad.

As usual (for me), I have a quick turn-around in the States. I arrive home this evening (Wednesday) and will be loading gear back in my dad’s car at 2am on Sunday morning. I am heading back to Haiti with the goat team.

I will be sure to update more on the project later this week, but for now – if anyone lives near me (Vineland), I am looking for twin sheets for the orphanages we partner with in Haiti.

Adios for now ūüôā

 

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Simon working on a well in Shark Hole


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Simon with a family near their well in Isla Tigre


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Maria Isabelle is one of the residents of Asilo. Maria is an elderly schizophrenia patient. On this particular day, she was in a good mood and gave me some drawings. I really like when she is in a good mood, but I also don’t mind when she is in a bad mood either because my Spanish isn’t good enough to figure out what she is yelling at me about ūüėČ  

 

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Back to those slippery HILLS!

 

The creek leading into Valle Escondido is too shallow for our motor. Paddling is my favorite part of our commute.

On Thursday, Simon, Jim and I went back to Valle Escondido to work at Elia’s house. While we were paddling in, some men from the community were working on cutting down trees along the creek. A boy¬†in their boat was Omar-¬†one of the teens who helped¬†us carry equipment to Elia’s house on Tuesday. I don’t pay volunteers, however, on Tuesday I did. I paid the teens that helped us $2 each for carrying equipment and material in anticipation for Thursday. I knew we were going to be short on help on Thursday so I gave the kids those tips in hopes that it would encourage them to¬†return. We pulled alongside the boat and Omar¬†hopped over into our boat. I am grateful that he did – we had a lot of material to carry. Between Jim, Simon and myself, there was no way all the material was making it to Elia’s house in one trip (and no one wants to make two trips to her house – it is so far!).

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Elia’s house on top of the hill.

The first well we drilled reached water, but once we started bailing the water out, the ¬†water recharge gradually decreased. It just meant we didn’t hit a very good source of water. We couldn’t drill very deep because of the soil, so we couldn’t create a deep enough column of water for good storage. It was quite disappointing to fill in the well, especially since it had water in it, but we had to cover it up and move on to a new spot.

We crossed over a¬†hill to a different spot to try drilling. We look for areas that already have little springs and try to drill nearby. We drilled in the second location and reached water. Again, we couldn’t go very deep because of the soil conditions. The difference with this location is that the water was flowing into the well quite fast. It was a very shallow well, however it would be enough for a single-family use. On Tuesday, we had installed a 55-gal drum for rain catchment. Now with the shallow well, Elia’s home has two nice improvements for receiving water.

Jim is drilling. Elia is on the left and Omar is cleaning our drill bit on the right.

On the first well, Elia and I drilled together. Here, on the second well, Elia is helping to replace the drill bits as Omar cleans them out.

The new well at Elia’s home!

I was feeling really worn out on the way home from Valle Escondido. By the time I got home, all I was daydreaming about was going to sleep. I had a few tasks to take care of that evening, however¬†before I could go to sleep, a stomach bug arrived. Three things were working in my favor; (1) the bug didn’t hit until I was home…not stuck in a boat during the hour-long commute (2) Jim and Kathy were still in Panama! (3)¬†I had planned a short work day for the next day with two relatively simple, albeit, strenuous tasks. ¬†Another cool note is a gal, named Ahvi, who wanted to help out. I had invited her to go on Friday since it was a short day. Even though I wasn’t there to work, it was a four-person team¬†since Ahvi and Kathy were going to help out.

Simon, Jim, Kathy & Ahvi returned to Buena Esperanza¬†(the community with the husband/wife drilling helpers). They met up with Hortencio and fully completed the well by installing a concrete pad¬†around the base of the well. We always install a concrete sanitary seal around the well when it is first drilled – that will keep contaminates from entering the well from the surface. On top of the seal, we¬†pour a 12″ diameter mini-concrete pad that is about 2″ deep. Sometimes it is a square, but lately we have been using 5-gallon buckets that we cut into a form. The concrete pad poured in Buena Esperanza was an extension of the original small pad. This is something we will usually return to do later in order to give the ladies space for washing clothes.

The final task that the team did was to install rain-catchment gutters on a house in Buena Esperanza. The house already had a large water tank, but their gutters were broken and leaking. It really isn’t an expensive fix (about $45) and it will supply rain-water to the two homes that share the large tank.

Jim & Kathy left on Saturday. It was sad to see them leave, but I am grateful that they were here and we got to spend a week working together. Jim & Kathy are great encouragers to me, Simon and everyone else at Agua Dulce. They are hard workers and enjoy sharing the gospel with others. They want everyone to have the joy of Christ that we have in our lives. I am grateful for them and for Sal, who left on Wednesday, for coming here to serve, to encourage, to bring treats (yum!) and to pray for the people they met along the way.

***Simon’s Boat:¬†Thanks to awesome friends, we are now only $400¬†from having enough to make Simon a new boat! I am not sure how long it will take to make, but I hope I am still here when it is completed so I can take lots of photos!***

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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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In Rain or Shine 

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Everyone looks so happy because this boat ride was only 45 minutes long ūüėČ

It has been nearly two and a half weeks since I arrived in Panama and I haven’t written! I tried. I started writing an update on Monday, but I couldn’t get photos to load and just shut off my computer and got distracted with other tasks. Distracted until today (Thursday) when my lovely “Public Relations” boss (Melissa) sent me a message that said “This is a reminder that I love you and you need to write a blog post.” I read that with the emphasis on Blog Post ūüėČ

So much has happened in the short time that I have been here that I should have written two blog posts, but here we go…oh, p.s. If there are any typos, I am blaming the ants walking on my keyboard. They are small, annoying, they bite and they like to mess up my spelbing ūüėČ

Four days after I arrived (and got projects set up), Jessica, Kat, Pat & Zack joined me in Panama. What a hard working team! They never complained even when I knew the conditions were difficult. 

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This 2.5 hours boat ride was rough. The sun cooked us on the first day and on the day we returned, it rained. The rain and wind combo made the trip very cold (which isn’t something that I usually have a problem with in Panama!)

We traveled 2.5 hours by boat to get to Playa Hermosa (called “Beautiful Beach”…although there wasn’t actually a beach where we worked). Simon, the Ngobe man that I drill with and have trained over the years, had identified this community and made the arrangements for us to help provide water to the school kids. We drilled, with Simon and village volunteers, in a few different locations before we found a suitable source of water to serve the small school. The borehole well was rather shallow, but the recharge was sufficient for the kids to use for drinking water.

We couldn’t take any photos of the community (quite a few of the Ngobe communities I have worked with are not fond of photos. Any photos of locals that you see on my posts are taken with permission). I did take photos on the second morning of the team because we were drilling on our own for awhile until volunteers joined us.

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Pat and Kat drilling the second well

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Pat and Zack cleaning out the drill bit 

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Zack and Jess drilling the second well

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Kat cleaning out the first well (water is bailed out of the borehole until all of the dirt from the installation is removed)

On our second day in Playa Hermosa, we drilled another well. This one was deeper with better recharge and would serve more of the homes, while the first well was just for the school kids. We actually drilled most of that well in the rain which was refreshing since none of us had showered since leaving our home base on Isla Bastimentos.        

On our way home from Playa Hermosa, we checked wells on Isla Tigre that Simon had drilled over the past couple of months. The rest of the week was spent on smaller projects like a day trip to check wells in Shark Hole, small repairs on tanks in De Jada and Buen Esperanza, checking wells and testing water on Isla Bastimentos. We repaired holes in the water pipeline in the mangroves and a hand-pump for the home of Nelson (drilled in 2016). All-in-all, the team stuck it out in rain, shine, mud and mangroves. They were dirty more then they were clean and never once complained (even when we had to deal with maggots!). I was really sad when they left, but really grateful that they were able to help me out.

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Taking water samples on Isla Bastimentos 

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Trying to keep from falling in the mangroves 

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It is actually a really slow process of stepping from root to stump to avoid sinking in the mangroves

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Nelson (grey) and Simon (red) have no problems with photos! This is a well that serves Nelson’s family 

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Zack is heating up a machete (to cut a hole in a water tank) with the kids from Buen Esperanza 

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Pat, Kat, Zack and Jess 

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“I don’t think we should be eating dinner with a spider on the table” is not a typical comment at my house in NJ.

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Lizzy likes to sleep with her paw on a human’s paw

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Ethan likes catching “Leaf-eaters” even when then mistake his finger for a leaf

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The plane that took my little team away ūüė¶

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One step forward, two steps back 

La Croix, Haiti

I’ve mentioned before that for manual drilling, Haiti is extremely difficult. Even though it is hard (and has a history of blocking my efforts with the rocks that make up most of the country’s subsurface), it doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying different methods and supporting different teams with drilling here in Haiti.

Percussion drilling involved pulling and dropping a 50+lb drilling hammer into the borehole to break apart soil and rock

This time, the team is mostly volunteers from Trinidad and two from the US. This team of 13 people have really worked well together. Prior to my arrival, I only had email contact with the leader, Natasha, and didn’t know anything about the others. It didn’t take long for us all to connect as a family. Perhaps it was 13 people sharing two rooms and one bathroom that helped us connect quickly ¬†ūüėČ

(Update: we now have TWO bathrooms)

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Drilling in Chiduba (part 2)

In my last post, “Drilling in Chiluba (Part 1)”, I mentioned that my next post would demonstrate the pumps we built, however I still don’t have many photos, so I can just show a couple shots from when we were testing the pumps.

I haven’t been able to retrieve photos from my “mostly dead” phone yet (I’m still hopeful!).

I’m leaving for Haiti in a couple hours so I have a replacement phone now (thanks to some awesome people from¬†Hydromissions!)

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Bulldozer

It’s been tough to get a strong enough cell signal to update recently, so here is a continuation from the last post about Uganda (Down Goes the Pipe).

After leaving the Rosser family with my new awesome rock breaking tool that they welded from the leafspring, I spent 11 hours on buses and got to Kakooge in the evening. The next morning, the drilling team excitedly named the new tool “bulldozer.”¬†

It took over an hour to assemble the 90′ of GI pipe and lower it into the borehole to test “bulldozer.” It worked well to break apart the quartz-like rock, but lowering it into the Continue reading

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