|1.13 Scarlet Spout | In the Field|
Just a few weeks ago, the EWB-USA Rutgers Guatemala project travel team ventured to Nueva Santa Catarina Ixtahuacán (NSCI), Guatemala to help repair and redesign the village’s water supply system. This was EWB-USA Rutgers’s sixth trip to NSCI. As a member of the travel team and the team’s translator, Nicole Del Monaco reflects on the travel team’s experiences and accomplishments:
“Upon arriving in NSCI, we went right to work, meeting with the Water Committee to discuss the progress of the pipeline. After hearing some of their concerns, the following day we traveled to the site to get a look at the ongoing repairs. While the repairs were underway, there was still work to be done before the pumps could be ready for start-up. Led by the professional mentors Sandy Kutzig and Dave Tanzi, we compiled a list of recommendations to incorporate into the work prior to start-up in order to ensure functionality and resilience of the system. We then presented the recommendationsto the Municipality and the Mayor of NSCI, who ensured that they would be passed to the contractor and taken into account for implementation.
Throughout the week, we also gave educational presentations to the students and teachers of NSCI. Over the course of 2 days, we taught students ages 5-15 the importance of water, conservation of water, and disinfection & sanitation practices. We also had the students participate in various activities, such as an Enviroscape, a town model that demonstrates runoff, which students could learn from first-hand how different pollutants and contaminants end up in their local waterways, which serve as their source of drinking water. We also set up an activity demonstrating the importance of sanitation and how easily diseases can be transmitted.
The week concluded with a town hall-style meeting, where we presented the background of the project, a current update, and concluded with a discussion about a potential disinfection system and the possible alternatives. While many were opposed to chlorination, there seemed to be some interest in slow sand filtration, and many wanted to learn more about it.
Overall, the trip was a success in what we aimed to do – to investigate what problems the community faced in ultimately starting up the system and toto prepare the community for the maintenance & operation phase.
From a personal standpoint, the trip exceeded my expectations beyond words. Interacting with the people and hearing how grateful and excited they were for this pipeline to be complete is an accomplishment in itself. Knowing that this pipeline can change lives is so rewarding and fulfilling. Although the pipeline is not yet complete, we should ALL take comfort in knowing we are all working together and doing something great for the community of NSCI. In the coming weeks, we’ll have much to follow up on to ensure sustainability of the project.
Our chapter would like to thank all partners and donors for their support. Successful projects would be impossible without the hard work and dedication of our international partners and NGO’s, specifically Appropriate Technology Collaborative (Guatemala Project), and Endelevu Community Development Services (Kenya Project), as well as the Camden Agricultural Coalition in Camden, New Jersey. The EWB-Rutgers Student Chapter also greatly thanks all of the project sponsors, including the Paramus Rotary Club, Caterpillar, RC Andersen LLC, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin for supporting the projects’ financial endeavors. In addition, the chapter acknowledges and is grateful to all donors no matter the size of the contribution. Thank you all!