Tag Archives: water projects

The Final Days


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



Simon working on a well in Shark Hole


Simon with a family near their well in Isla Tigre


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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Tiger Island


Securing the boat after we unloaded our equipment for Isla Tigre.

Simon and I went back to the island where he grew up and where most of his family still resides – Isla Tigre (Tiger Island). Unfortunately, there aren’t any tigers there (although there was a cute orange kitten¬†that Simon joked about being a tiny tiger).

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Isla Tigre is marked with the red pin. I live around the spot where the “i” is in “Bastimento.” In Simon’s boat, it took us 1.5 hours to reach Isla Tigre.

Simon and I went to Isla Tigre¬†with quite a few tasks on our list. One was to check on two wells that he had drilled a few months ago. We found that one well, with a very good source of water, wasn’t being used at all. The homes surrounding it did not like it. Simon had shared with me that these families all wanted him to pipe water to their houses, but he had hoped drilling them a well would change their minds (like Shark Hole!).¬†The other well, however, was used often and the families that used it even put some wood around it to make a little platform. We were both encouraged¬†by the second well since¬†the three homes near it were using it and liked it! It is odd to me¬†– all of these homes (6) served by the two wells are relatively¬†close to each other and all are relatives of Simon. One cluster of homes doesn’t use their well and the other cluster of homes (not far away) uses their well. I would imagine that the families all hang out, maybe even talk or do laundry together and I wonder why one group doesn’t see the benefit that the other group has by using their well? Sometimes¬†Simon just smiles and answers my questions with “loco, Cait. Ellos est√°n locos” (Crazy, Cait. They are crazy).


Installing a rain catchment tank.

Our next stop was at a church on a different side of the Island. This church received gutters when the Healing Fund team was here a few weeks ago and was waiting on a tank. We brought them a 200-gallon tank to serve water to the surrounding homes. After the install, Simon and I chatted with the pastor and checked the terrain for water. We are going to try to drill a well since there are a lot of homes in need of water in that part of the island. The pastor said he would be able to get volunteers together so we are going to reach out to him when we have time to make the trip back to Isla Tigre. I have an ongoing list of project communities and contact phone numbers so we can get volunteers together before we make the trips to the communities.


Drilling at our third stop on Isla Tigre

Our final stop at Isla Tigre was near Simon’s mother’s house. A well that he drilled there last year was used very much by all of the homes and a line would form as people waited to get water. Simon wanted to drill another well nearby so the families wouldn’t have to wait as long to retrieve their water. Drilling in an area where people understand the benefits of having a well was so nice! We had three volunteers that worked really hard and even took initiative to clean the drill after we finished.¬†We drilled down to 27′ with a¬†10′¬†column of water!¬†The drilling went so well! I get so encouraged when we have volunteers and I feel like progress is being made with the acceptance of the wells.

All in all, our time on Isla Tigre was good. Two existing wells are being used frequently, we drilled another well that we know will be used frequently, installed a water tank and made tentative plans to drill another well. I know we still have the cluster of homes that doesn’t use their well, but we aren’t too discouraged. There is always a chance they will eventually start using it, but even if they don’t, at least other families nearby are accepting the water wells.


On our way home, I thought about how awesome this work is – how cool it is that I can be part of projects in remote communities where we are providing water and sharing the love of Jesus. Sure, there are frustrating times, lonely times and even times when I am sick, but overall, I can’t imagine myself doing any other task. I am grateful to have “commutes” like this photo where the sea is calm¬†and¬†the sun is shining as the boat brings us home.¬†


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Panama Projects



Home and cayucos in Shark Hole, Panama

Each Hydromissions project is unique because we work in many countries, most of which have different climates, languages and cultures within themselves. Every project has its own set of challenges, whether it is difficult soil conditions, limited material or uncooperative weather, to name a few.

While I don’t always make it back to each community¬†where I manage projects, I try when possible. One of the benefits of multiple projects in Panama is that I am able to easily check on projects that I have worked on in years past.

One location I checked a few times during this last trip was the pipeline constructed back in 2015. You can read about the construction in this post- Pipeline. The line looked good with no visible holes in the pipe. The community leader assigned a family member to make sure all of the valves were closed in the afternoon to give the spring time to fill each night and manages any repairs if needed.


The Pipeline from November 2015 is looking good!

One of my favorite Panama projects is the well that was drilled with the engineering students from Rowan University during their Spring Break in 2014. This well is used all day and sometimes at night too. I am so encouraged because the water flow (and pvc pump) has kept up with the demand for over two years now!


Well drilled in March 2014 with engineering students from Rowan University 

I am grateful for the relationship that I have with the Wood family and Simon and his family. Those two contacts in Panama make it easier to coordinate and work on projects to serve the Ngobe communities.

Simon, a Ngobe himself, is now working with Hydromissions and The Healing Fund, part-time, to continue well drilling and sharing the word of God on the surrounding islands year-round.


Simon starting a bore hole well on Isla Bastimentos

Please keep the Wood Family and Simon and his family in prayer as they work to share the gospel and provide for the physical needs of the communities surrounding them.






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9:00am (Part 2)

*to make it easier to share this update, I am going to call the community leader “John.” I had originally written it with “community leader” throughout, but¬†it seemed difficult to read it that way.

The next morning (Wednesday), I started packing my tools at daybreak to head back to the village. I was still letting doubt and anxiety creep back into my mind, however I knew that we (myself, the Wood family here in Panama, my family and friends back in the States) were all praying for the community and for the project.

I went back to the pipes, alone, and started repairing all the spots that were cut. About 2 hours later, John came out and met with me. He was very pleased to see the water flowing full in the 2″ pipe. Suddenly, he was agreeing with everything I had told him and the other guys on Tuesday.¬†Herd mentality, or¬†mob mentality, describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors, follow trends, etc. That can be in something as simple as purchasing trends or as severe as a mob of people rioting. Since I had John¬†alone on Wednesday, he was much more understanding because he didn’t have the other men all rallying with different ideas and hacking away at the pipe.

I was not cured of all my anxiety, however I felt that God was taking care of the community and me. Bursts of encouragement like the transformation of John on that morning and having Bobby Wood walk the pipeline and reassure me that the system looked sufficient gave me comfort. Continue reading


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Poco a Poco (little by little)

Digging the trench is going slowly, but little by little, we are making progress!

250′ of trench!

In order to maintain community involvement,¬†we work when the community members are able to work with us. Last weekend, I worked with 3¬†guys on Saturday and 1 guy on Sunday. ¬†Even though it is hard work, if I can get at least one guy to show up, we can keep progressing. This week,¬†there have been a couple guys working in the mornings, but I haven’t been with them. I came down with a fever a couple nights ago and haven’t recovered yet. Raul and Chuck, from Hydromissions, are here to help this week. As I lay here in bed, typing this update, they are working hard on the trench (I feel so bad not being in the field with them because the conditions are rough, but I am too sick). I am really grateful for the timing of Raul and Chuck’s visit. No one wants to get sick in the field, but knowing that the project continues to progress makes it easier.

I¬†have mentioned the trench for the water line will take us past the new school. Because it will bring water to the school, I am able to get more support from the whole community. Typically, the two main families do not get along or work together, but they have unified recently to build this¬†small school for their children. ¬†Working off the momentum of the school project and showing how the water line will benefit the school and the teacher is really helping me get support. Being a teacher here is not easy. There is one classroom with 20 students, ranging from grades 1st – 6th. Justa, the teacher, has to sleep in a small house¬†near the school Monday – Friday because it is too expensive to travel back to town where she lives. Justa doesn’t have the same living conditions here as she has in town (electricity, running water, etc), but she doesn’t mind. She truly cares for the students. I really like her a lot. With the help of Shirlene and the kids, I taught a hygiene class one day and Justa was really excited and said she would keep reinforcing the hygiene practices with the kids. She has already been explaining worms and parasites to them¬†and encouraging hand washing and now she has some material to help her lessons. I am so happy to be working with her ūüôā

Justa, the school teacher at the new Ngobe school

Justa, the school teacher at the new Ngobe school 

Praises: After a long drought, we got some rain last night. Water tanks and creeks were drying up and the only good source of water came from the wells we drilled. Happy that the wells were producing consistent water, however, we needed the rain! 

Prayers: That my health improves and that no one else gets sick. Also, we could still use more rain Рa lot more rain!


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Helping Hands

It has been two weeks since I arrived in Bastimentos, Panama and it has been packed full of good (muddy) work.

I always feel a little anxious when I am working here with the Ngobe villages. Their culture is so much different then the communities I work with in Haiti, El Salvador and Guatemala. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just different and I have to re-adjust to their culture when I arrive.

Although working conditions are harder, my living conditions are awesome! It is so nice to come back muddy and gross from the jungle or mangroves to delicious food, wonderful people (the Wood family!) and an indoor bathroom!

Ellie Wood (12 years-old) is my full-time teammate now (as long as she finishes her homework before she joins me ūüėČ ).¬†Ellie translates and helps with whatever I am working on at the moment. She has no problem trekking through the jungle and sloshing in the mangroves with me. It is really nice to have the company, but even better to have an extra pair of hands!

Most of our work has revolved around trying to get water to the new school in the Ngobe village and to a little cluster of houses in the mangroves. This particular cluster of houses has a man who is bedridden (paralyzed) and his daughters paddle their cayuco (canoe) over every day to get water. Drilling is not an option because the mangrove houses are constructed over saltwater. Our plan is to pipe water from an existing reservoir all the way to the mangroves (passing the school along the pipeline will also provide water to the school). In order to make sure everything will work, we have spent a lot of time measuring the proposed path and taking down as much existing information as well can (water flow, pressure, rough elevations, etc).

Here we are after a drilling project 6-months ago

Ellie after drilling with me when I was here 6 months ago.

Last week, we had three sets of helping hands!

Jimmie Rycek, a friend and one of the engineering students from Rowan University that drilled here in March 2014, returned to help me for a week. It was great to have Jimmie back and he was a wonderful help as we designed and planned out the piped water system. We brainstormed a few different options with Bobby Wood (building tanks, pumping water, etc), but the piped gravity-fed water is the easiest way to put in a system that this community can maintain.


Jimmie helping measure the path for the proposed pipeline into the mangroves.

Ellie (orange) & Bella (pink) helping measure the proposed pipeline

Ellie (orange) and my other little helper, Bella (pink), measuring the proposed pipeline in the other direction.

There is an existing water line that takes water from a small¬†reservoir to a laundry station.¬†We had hoped to use that pipe and just extend it, but¬†when we actually followed the pipe route to the reservoir (an adventure in itself), we found that the pipe was broken in many places and too small to carry the water as far as we needed it to go.¬†The existing water line is 1,300′ and we need to go 2,500′ to get water from the reservoir to the mangrove houses. We finally decided that we had to replace ALL¬†of the existing pipe in addition to buying the new pipe, which put me well beyond my original budget for materials.

However, God was already providing funds before I even knew that I needed them! I received a donation I was not expecting on Oct 7th and it will allow me to provide what is needed in this community and help me fund parts of other large projects (like the ones highlighted in the Gift a Goat & MORE! crowd-funding campaign).

I am so encouraged by the people who donate to these projects. It isn’t easy working out here, but it is a lot easier to face these challenges¬†when I¬†have supporters to cover the financial aspects of the projects.

Thank you all so much!

Below are some photos of the path, the pipe and the laundry spot:

Omar hacking away with his machete so we could follow the old pipeline

Omar hacking away with his machete so we could follow the old pipeline.

one of the many leaks we found in the existing pipeline

One of the many leaks we found in the existing pipeline.

The little structure to the right is the laundry spot. To the left is the partial trench for the pipeline. The existing pipe goes back into the lowlands (grassy area to the left) and wraps around that hill on the left side and goes into the jungle

The little structure to the right is the laundry spot. To the left is the partial trench for the pipeline. The existing pipe goes back into the lowlands (grassy area to the left) and wraps around that hill on the left side and goes into the jungle. 

…and a random cow.

A photo of a random cow because she had floppy ears. She was resting when I was walking home one

A photo of a random cow because she had floppy ears.

Prayer Requests: There are a lot of infections and illnesses (fever, vomiting, respiratory, pneumonia) going around the village and even in town. Bobby Wood was very ill for a week with either Chikungunya or Dengue fever and now it sounds like he is coming down with pneumonia. Ellie Wood has an upper-respirtory infection. Shirlene Wood has been providing medications and oral rehydrations mixtures nearly every day to our village neighbors. Please pray for a healing over the communities (especially the small children who cannot fight infections well), healing for Bobby, Ellie and protection for the rest of us who are still healthy. 

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Gift a Goat and More!


Back in the Ngobe village on Isla Bastimentos in Panama

At 2:30am on Tuesday morning, before my flight out to Panama, I launched my most ambitious crowd-funding campaign to date. I crowd-fund once a year to help me reach goals for certain projects that I cannot financially support with my own funding. I was really nervous about setting a goal of $20,000 for this campaign, however, I have three projects I would like to complete from Januaray to March in 2016 that will cost roughly $18,000. That’s just my first three months next year – I’ll have many more after that! If this works out, I’ll be able to give latrines to families in San Antonio, Guatemala and La Cumbre, El Salvador; goats to students in Marbial, Haiti and a new water system to San Antonio, Guatemala. 

I was so nervous when I launched the campaign online that I checked it as many times as I could on Tuesday during my down-time while traveling. A watched pot doesn’t boil, right? My campaign didn’t boil on the first day. 

On Wednesday, I was working in the Ngobe village all day so I didn’t check the campaign until I came “home” for dinner. I checked my email and was so surprised by the donations I received already that I had to re-read them a few times to make sure I read them correctly – $5,800 towards my goal! This is incredible! The campaign is heating up now ūüėČ 

Thank you all so much for your donations! 

If you haven’t seen the funding site yet, here is the link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gift-a-goat-more/x/8917480#/

Please check it out and share it with friends so we can spread the gift of goats and more!

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