Sunday, July 22, 2012

A day without water

It all started Thursday night.  I was eating ice cream in Shell while having a "man" talk with two of the 17 interns that were in Shell for a nearly two weeks helping in many areas....When a truck drove by announcing that the City of Shell would be turning off the entire city water supply Friday at 7:00 for an unknown period of time.

Now, this normally is not a big deal, but for the last 24 hours our office had been measuring the water intake of the hospital and for reasons that are messy to explain, we had to lower the reserve water in the hospitals reserve tank to half the normal level to complete our task.  Needless to say, the hospital did not have much water in the large reserve tank when I heard the news.  I was thinking to myself, why of all days did they have to turn the water off ........ you know how things stack up against you, its seldom just one thing.

So I went to the hospital and turned on all the city water lines to fill the tank (we have more than one) and low and behold, very little water came out.  The citizens of the town were all the process of doing the same thing and although the water was still functioning, virtually no water was entering the tanks.

So began Friday morning.  Rafael the head maintenance man, was more than a little irritated about the water situation, but still in a decent humor about the whole thing.  You have to love the "it will all work out" attitude of Ecuador sometimes.

About 1:00 pm water levels were getting a bit critical and the decision was made to turn off all the water to the homes behind the hospital to conserve water (we share the hospital water source), needless to say, with the lack of notification to the other missionaries I ruffled a few feathers.

Don't panic though, the story gets better.  About 3:00 pm Friday the water from Shell returned, praise the Lord, much sooner than anyone thought.  So....... we went to turn on all the homes and repressurize the system only to find the pumps of the hospital would not work.

Two men from maintenance. Wim and myself spent the next 6 hours analyzing, disassembling and reassembling the water pumps.  We had an air leak on the vacuum side of the pumps and we could not find it.  We ended up making a new temporary system and after the third attempt to get it to work, it finally did!  Turns out we had a bad pump and an air leak.  The combination of which was a bugger.

We were all wet, dirty, tired and ready for bed by the time we were blessed by God with a working system.  It gave lots of time to think about how critical water is to our lives and how important the work through community development can be.  I am thankful for the dedicated men who would not quit until the problem was solved and water was restored to the hospital.

Just one guy doing my part,


Sunday, July 15, 2012

How to hand dig a trench 18 Km long

I (Eric) was privileged to visit the mountain community of Daldal in Ecuador over the last three days.  I went with a group of 17 interns from the USA.  We had a great time and saw a community working together to complete a large task.

As a bonus to the trip, I was able to go with my 12 year old son Kevin.  We had some great father son time and worked hard in the trenches.

We left Wednesday in the morning via van for Daldal.  It was a 5 hour trip that included lunch along the way.  We traveled to Ambato, turned south to Rio Bamba and headed east into the mountains to Daldal.   

Usually the elevation of 10,000 feet makes the temperature cold (45 degrees) and rainy.  We were incredibly blessed to visit in the dry season and experience 70 degree weather and sun.  Praise the Lord it was not raining.

Each day the people of the community would gather about 8:00 am and dig for 6 hours until 2:00 pm.  Each person was assigned 5 meters to dig to a depth of 4 feet.  130 people each day can dig about 600 meters.  As we dug, it felt like we were not making much progress, but at the end of the day we realized that the trench was really long.

Kevin digging in the trench

Huge earth worms in the volcanic soil

The community has already installed four spring capture points and installed 7 kilometers of pipe.  They are working on the last 11 kilometers of pipe that will bring water to each home.  There are 180 homes and nearly 1,200 people here.  Very large in comparison to the jungle projects I have worked on so far.

Let me tell you, these people work hard - really hard.  We are at a high elevation and the young mom's  who were digging in the ditches out dug me by about 50%.  It was very embarrassing! I was super sore, but it was worth it.

Hubert the cow and Kevin

At the community building where we were sleeping, there were cows just outside the door.  Kevin made friends with a cow whom he named Hubert.  We visited Hubert everyday and we made sure to say good-bye before we left.

On the last day we were invited to a community lunch.  They spread two tables end to end, covered it with a table cloth and poured the food on the tables.  After the prayer, each person just walked to the table and ate with their hands.  Efficient!  We had so much food here, the team was just hoping the community would stop feeding us.  The people were very friendly and we cannot wait to go back and see the project when it is complete.

Daldal Community lunch

Quichua man in Daldal

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