Tag Archives: water well

The Final Days

IMG_2810.JPG

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

 

FullSizeRender

Simon working on a well in Shark Hole


FullSizeRender-1

Simon with a family near their well in Isla Tigre


IMG_1513

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  

 

4 Comments

Filed under Hydromissions, Panama

A key, An open door, An invitation

My absolute favorite photo from Panama. This is Elia, watching her son pump water from their new well in Valle Escondido. Photo Credit: Raul 

Last week was a wee bit different – in a good way!

My Hydromissions teammate, Raul, arrived in Panama on Sunday. Raul became an Associate for Hydromissions in 2013 and since then we have worked together in Haiti (2013), El Salvador (2014, 2015) and Panama (2015).

Raul, on his way to Isla Tigre with Simon.

I made arrangements for Simon and Raul to visit every village that Simon and I have worked with over these past 11-weeks.

At this point, the different Ngobe families have seen me and Simon on multiple occasions. They know we are working to help, not hurt (use) them. We are far from being completely trusted, but I would say that we are more welcome now that each of these communities have seen our work. We have multiple rainwater catchment and/or borehole wells in each of the communities, with plans to continue working throughout the year. Small steps towards trust and acceptance for Simon in villages that are not his own.

Simon, bailing dirty water out of a newly drilled well in Shark Hole.

Raul’s¬†first language is Spanish and although Spanish is the second language for the Ngobe, most can speak it¬†in addition to their native tongue,¬†Ng√§bere. Simon’s first language is¬†Ng√§bere so he can translate between Spanish and Ng√§bere when needed.

Raul came to spend a week meeting with the families, sharing about God and listening to their stories. The Ngobe share in the form of stories (similar to the parables in the Bible). Raul and Simon went out every day and did a little work (small repairs, pump installs, etc) in each of our project villages and, afterwards, spent hours¬†visiting¬†with families. Raul’s gift and passion is evangelism¬†(as is Simons). Both men are gentle and kind in their conversations, yet passionate and driven to see peoples lives change. Simon uses analogies to share in ways that the Ngobe would understand. I love to hear Simon share stories, although my language and cultural¬†comprehension makes it hard for me to understand¬†them.

The work that I am gifted and passionate about¬†– drilling wells, designing pumps, building latrines,¬†hygiene education – is the key we use to open doors to villages that we couldn’t just walk into and [effectively] share about Christs’ love. The Ngobe people (and most other people) don’t want to just hear you speak, they want to see action behind it. At Hydromissions, we want to be an organization that provides¬†“Water for the thirsty in Jesus’ name” because we recognize that we need to care for physical needs and¬†ultimately that opens doors to care for spiritual needs.

Simon and I have worked really hard to provide for the physical needs of the families in these 7 villages. Providing the water has opened some doors into villages that Simon had never been to before, but now he is known in them.

I didn’t go with Simon and Raul to visit the homes.¬†I felt like my presence would¬†be more distracting than helpful. Raul is a foreigner, however he is a native Spanish speaking foreigner (and being a male helps too). I am just a foreigner that tries to say¬†things like¬†“d√≥lar” (dollar), but ends up saying¬†“dolor” (pain) so my sentence of “If I had more pains, we could do more work” just doesn’t cut it ūüėČ I was able to catch up on computer work, inventory and a project I have going on in Bocas while the guys¬†were in the villages.

This particular post is about a family on Isla Tigre. Raul and Simon went to Isla Tigre to install pumps in two wells that Simon and I had drilled previously.

New well and pump on Isla Tigre.

After they finished, they were chatting with different families using the well. One woman, Maritza, was sharing about how neither she nor her children could read or write. Her husband had died in March in a bus accident. This accident killed 18 men from the province of Bocas Del Toro¬†(where we work). The men were being transported to a farm to harvest watermelon. Simon and Raul were trying to figure out how to help¬†with Maritza’s¬†request so they went to her house¬†to¬†continue¬†getting to know her¬†and her eldest son, Benedicto. When Raul asked if they knew who God was, they responded, “no.” This is actually unusual. Even Simon was surprised since everyone (up until Maritza)¬†has known¬†about God in these villages. Whether they care or not, most people¬†have heard about¬†God.

That evening, we were discussing Maritza after dinner and made plans for Simon and Raul to return to visit her and her children. We wanted to give the family school supplies (books, paper, pencils, etc) to help with their request to learn to read and write. We also wanted to have a bible lesson at her house. Raul and Simon had an open door, an invitation to return.

Simon sharing stories to the family outside of Maritza’s house.

Simon and Raul returned on Friday to give a bible lesson. They taught about creation, sin, redemption Рgoing from the old testament to the new testament. People came to see what was going on, some stayed, some left, some slept, but some really listened. Maritza and her son were two that were really paying attention.

Simon sharing about God.

At the end of the lesson, Raul offered an even better invitation than one for a visit to a home. An invitation to start to really know God Рto be part of the family of Christ. An invitation to salvation.  Maritza and Benedicto accepted.

We were (still are!) beyond thrilled with the news of Maritza and Benedicto!

“In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents [that is, changes his inner self‚ÄĒhis old way of thinking, regrets past sins, lives his life in a way that proves repentance; and seeks God‚Äôs purpose for his life].‚ÄĚ Luke 15:10

Simon and Raul found a lady on Isla Tigre who has agreed to help Maritza’s family learn to read and write. They have supplies that we bought for them in Bocas to get started. We are really hoping the things being put¬†in place now (the tutor, for example) stick. I am glad that Simon will be able to stop by from time to time to make sure Maritza is doing OK. We are also working out a way to get a solar audio bible over to the family soon so they can continue to learn about God.

‚̧

4 Comments

Filed under Hydromissions, Panama

No Sharks in Shark Hole

IMG_1393

Cloudy skies don’t make for the best days to go out, but Simon and I had two communities scheduled and it didn’t look too bad outside.

Simon and I headed out on a cloudy morning to go to two different communities; Buena Esperanza (Good Hope) and Shark Hole. Contrary to the name, I have checked multiple times and have yet to see a shark near Shark Hole (bummer!).

(The last time I was in Buena Esperanza was with the Healing Fund team. They went to Buena Esperanza to have a Medical/Dental Clinic and¬†replace/install gutters for rainwater catchment systems. At that time, I helped both the¬†Medical/Dental and the Water team, while¬†Simon walked throughout the community with Phil (from the Healing Fund team) to learn about how the individual homes accessed water. After Simon¬†finished, I went with him to look at an “ojo de agua” (eye of water) and sort out a plan for a well.)

The day before our arrival, I had called Hortencio (a man, from Buena Esperanza, who agreed to help drill the well) to set up our start time. Our “approximate” start time.

Simon and I arrived, walked up into the community and started asking around to find Hortencio. The first two¬†people we asked did not know who we were asking for, so I was starting to get nervous. By¬†the third person, I realized that I wasn’t pronouncing his name correctly (my jersey-spanish accent had accidentally dropped the “t” from his name). Once that mystery was solved, we were brought to the home of his mother-in-law.

Neither his wife or mother-in-law knew where Hortencio was, so we waited and chatted with them for a bit. A young boy sitting on the mother-in-law’s lap was a child I recognized from the medical clinic. Doctor Ron made a point to show this boy’s skin to all of us helping that day because of the severe reactions he was having to the bug bites. The young boy had an autoimmune disorder so he couldn’t fight the infections caused from scratching the bug bites. He was covered in awful sores. He was given a topical antibiotic¬†(maybe an oral antibiotic as well, but I can’t remember). I asked the women there if they were using the topical medicine and if they had any of it left. They were out of the medicine. They showed me some of the healed sores where the medicine had been effective so I told them I would¬†bring them more when I returned to Buena Esperanza. It is a really expensive medication so the hope is that they will use it sparingly so it lasts.

IMG_1511

The little boy sitting comfortably with his grandma

Hortencio arrived about twenty minutes later¬†and we got to work. I was really impressed with Hortencio’s work ethic. He did a lot of the drilling on his own. As it got deeper, Simon and I helped, but Hortencio really worked hard and didn’t slow down. He had seen some of my wells last year and wanted one in his community. Now that we were there, he really demonstrated his desire for a well by his hard work. BUT, guess what was even better than Hortencio’s work?! His wife helped too! This has never happened with my drilling projects in the Ngobe communities. While Hortencio and Simon were drilling, I was¬†disconnecting and cleaning out the drill bit during the process (once the drill bucket is filled, it’s lifted out of the borehole and the soil is dumped out. In Panama, the soil is very sticky clay so it is harder and more time consuming to clean the bucket out each time). Hortencio’s wife had been watching me while I was working and I got the feeling she wanted to try, but didn’t know how to approach her or offer her the job. It all worked out when Simon and I left for about 15 minutes to check on a water tank we installed with my first little team¬†at a home nearby. When we returned, Hortencio’s wife had taken over my roll of cleaning the drill bucket. I was beyond excited! It was so great to see the two of them working together for their community well!

FullSizeRender

Husband and Wife drilling team!

Since I lost my spot working on the drill, I went to one of my least favorite parts of the borehole well process. Cutting the screen.

IMG_1553

I really don’t love cutting the screen. I usually find a helper to cut half (I always bring two saws) but on this particular day, I did it all myself.

IMG_1509

Drinking coffee (or something that is made to look like coffee). It actually didn’t taste much like coffee, so it was easier to drink ūüėČ

After we finished drilling the well at Buena Esperanza, Simon and I went to Shark Hole. On our way, we stopped off at Dejada to drop off our drilling equipment and 4″ pvc pipe. We weren’t going to be using those items at Shark Hole and needed a safe place to store them while we worked. Unfortunately, theft is very common. Simon had his motor stolen about six¬†months ago. Since then, he has worked on weekends and saved his money for a new one. Simon¬†was 3/4th¬†of the way paid off when¬†one of my teammates from the States and his wife decided to pay for the rest (and donate to his future boat!). It was a huge blessing to Simon and now we are hoping to get¬†him enough for a new fiberglass boat (he uses a wooden Cayuco).

IMG_1556

Dejada is where we stored our equipment for safe keeping while we worked in Shark Hole

While we were in Buena Esperanza, it had rained a bit, but not much. The sky remained dark as we travelled to Dejada and then on to Shark Hole. Once we reached Shark Hole and climbed up to install the first pump, the rain started. It was torrential. One of our volunteers immediately abandoned the project. He ran to a building to take cover. Simon looked at me and I decided to keep us going. I didn’t want to wait out the storm because it was already late afternoon.¬†I didn’t want to get home after dark. We worked for about an hour in the torrential¬†rain. My rubber boots filled up from water running down my pant-legs. I actually got cold – in Panama! We finished one pump, but couldn’t complete the second pump because one of the pipes I grabbed was the wrong schedule.IMG_1555

IMG_1502

We had a lot of bailing before we could head home (many gallons of water!)

IMG_1506

It stopped raining as we were bailing so we travelled home under dark, but not storming, clouds

I was freezing by the time we got home. With 90-degree+ days and 100% humidity, cold is not a typical feeling here.

All around, a really good day. One more well drilled (Buena Esperanza) and one pump installed (Shark Hole).

As you are reading this post, we should be on our way back to Buena Esperanza to install a pump in their new well and bring the medicine to the little boy with the infections. After that, we will return to Shark Hole to install a pump there and sort out where the next well will be drilled.

The list of projects is ever growing and I couldn’t be happier! I am so thankful that Simon LOVES working on wells and building relationships that lead to sharing the message of Christ’s love. I train, support and work with Simon so he can be the lead on these water projects. In the villages, I have him in the front, explaining the drill and explaining why we are doing it. I will leave in about a month, but Simon will keep on working in these communities and building relationships with those he is serving. Ultimately, we want those relationships to¬†lead to more people living their lives to glorify God. Simon knows his own culture and knows that this is a long, slow process. He is the type of teammate that I am confident will continue to provide quality wells¬†while gently sharing his testimony of Christ’s redeeming grace.

IMG_1910

Sun sets beyond Playa Hermosa (where we drilled a well with Jess, Zack, Pat and Kat in March)

8 Comments

Filed under Hydromissions, Panama

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!

4 Comments

Filed under Hydromissions, Panama

In Rain or Shine 

img_0324

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. 

img_9743

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.

img_0326

Pat and Kat drilling the second well

img_0316

Pat and Zack cleaning out the drill bit 

img_0319

Zack and Jess drilling the second well

img_0323

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.

img_0318

Taking water samples on Isla Bastimentos 

img_0327

Trying to keep from falling in the mangroves 

img_0328

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

img_0329

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

img_0322

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

img_9793

Pat, Kat, Zack and Jess 

img_0325

“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.

img_0314

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

img_0304

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

img_0294

The plane that took my little team away ūüė¶

5 Comments

Filed under Hydromissions, Panama

A New Drilling Team!

Always happy to pass border protection and immigration

Always happy to pass border protection and immigration

Leaving a project community is always bittersweet. It is hard to jump between countries because I am always leaving family behind every time I get on a plane. Sometimes it is my biological family and sometimes it is the communities I have come to love as I live and work with them.

I am especially attached to Panama because of the Wood family and the work we do together to serve the Ngobe community. We have a similar mindset when it comes to how to work with locals. Bobby & Shirlene operate in the same way I was taught drilling by Steve & Jen (founders of Hydromissions). We want to train and equip the local Ngobe people, so that they (the Ngobe) can help each other. This method allows the community to take ownership and responsibility for the wells to provide good water for their families instead of relying primarily on outside aid.  It is far easier said then done.

This was my third time working on Isla Bastimentos, near Bocas Del Toro.  It was also my most productive in terms of training.

Three Ngobe men were interested in well drilling! I worked primarily with Candido, but also taught lessons to Nazario & Simon. These are the first three from communities nearby who have shown an interest (and even a little excitement) to learn this new skill. I drilled three wells with Candido. Simon and Nazario were present for one of those wells. A week later, while I was working on a pump project on Isla Bastimentos, Simon & Candido led a team from YWAM to drill three wells on Isla Tigre.  Three more wells!!! I am beyond excited to see how this new drill team will serve surrounding communities in the future. Drilling wells not only provides drinking water, but also helps Candido, Simon & Nazario connect with new villages that might not be as receptive to them otherwise. My desire is that the gospel is spread through the relationships these men develop while working together with new communities to bring good, safe, drinking water to islands around Bocas Del Toro.

This is the well that all three men worked on with me

This is the well that all three men worked on with me

Update on Nepal: I am still on-call, but not assigned. I am available to serve in Disaster Response until June 30th (when I have to be back in the States to prepare for my next project). I will update you all if I am assigned to a team.

1 Comment

Filed under Hydromissions, Panama

Quick Update on Surgery & Projects

Surgery went well! I can walk around now just fine for about thirty minutes at a time before I need a break. I am not super comfortable on stairs yet, but with PT a couple times a week, they should get easier soon.

The projects I am managing for Hydromissions are going well. A rain catchment system has been completed in Uganda. A deep borehole well has been completed on the east coast of India. In progress, we have a borehole well being drilled in northern India and a borehole well in Ethiopia. Both of those projects should be completed in about another week. Lastly, a team is preparing to travel to Haiti in two weeks for a borehole well project.

If you would like to support our projects or specific associates, please check out our new donations page

Below are photos from the completed projects in India and Uganda.

Enjoy.20140623-105333-39213142.jpg20140623-110710-40030505.jpg

Leave a comment

Filed under Hydromissions