bus rides. We agreed that there are some aspects of Central American life that we would like to see translate into our lives back in the states. Myself, I love the relaxed attitude throughout the region. I like that time is more often improvised in Honduras than in the US, where everything is scheduled. I know Korey loved the hammocks, as did most of our brigade group. People always talk about the importance of balance in life, and our time in Honduras illustrated for me that
sought-after balance. The trick would be to bring that balance into my life at CMU. But, like I said, right now we were still in Honduras, and Honduras is where I wanted my mind to be for that last day. Rather than digging the trench, my job on the last day was to lay down the piping. I was glad, because digging trenches is not my forte. The water system withdrew water from a pozo, a well, which was by the church. The water would be purified and pumped into the reservoir at
the top of the 'mountain' where Korey and I had been throwing the frisbee. From there, water was distributed to the community, driven by gravity. This means the reservoir had to be higher than any of the houses it would be connected to. The community members would only have access to the water a couple of times a week, and they would have to pay a low monthly fee to run and maintain the system. Despite these limitations, the community was very happy to have this pozo and system
put in place.
Laying the piping was not as physically demanding as digging a trench, but it had to be done correctly and quickly the first time, or else the PVC glue would dry with the pipes in the wrong position. We were a few brigaders, girls, working with a few brigade staff members. Joel
was one of the staff members. I was excited to be working with him in part because he seemed cool, if quieter, and in part because he didn't speak much English. I was excited that I could only speak Spanish with him. We also worked with Mario. He told us about his recent wedding
and it was adorable. We were able to finish what had been started of the piping that ran down the 'mountain,' and get a good start on the piping on the side of the road, running towards the community. The rest of the group had been covering the piping we were laying down, and our final task in the community was to finish covering all the piping we had laid.
With the piping laid and covered, we met with members of the community at the pozo. A water well drilling rig, essentially a giant drill, had been set up and was drilling for water. Joel explained how it worked to me at one point, and this is what I remember: The drill could dig about 300ft deep (or it might have been meters…) by adding 30ft (or meter) cylinders to the desired depth. It drilled through the earth, using mud to extract the chipped rock and earth. The drill would push air into the hole, to avoid creating a vacuum.
Finally, clean water started to come up from the drill, and it was exactly like all the inspirational videos you see about access to water in underdeveloped areas. People put their hands and heads under the stream. We were told the water was about 70-80% purified, which was better than the water the community had access to. We said our goodbyes and thank yous at the pozo. A community leader talked about how much this meant to him. I spoke about how much this meant to me as well as to the group, and thanked the community for welcoming us whole-heartedly. I also thanked the brigades staff for working so well with us, and the other CMU students for the fun we had and the support they provided.
Back at the compound, Vilma gave each of us a bowl or cup made from jícara, a fruit that makes a delicious juice, with a hard carcass that can be dried and used for things like bowls and cups. We had an excellent reflection that night. We talked about the implications of our work and the impact we were making. People questioned how much of an impact we were making, and in what ways. We talked about how this experience will influence our careers and our contribution to the world. We all agreed that this had been a wonderful trip. We were leaving in the morning. We would take with us a rich, new memories. In particular, I was happy that I would still have these eye-opening
friends with me back at CMU.
- Holly Stein, Brigader