Our day began by heading out to the community of Brasil, where we were going to be doing our water filter project. The people there welcomed us and we began the assembly process. Several groups formed and worked on the various parts of the filters. Some assembled the stem that connected the valve to the filter, some cleaned buckets (used for the reservoir), some attached the spigot nozzles and some caulked the seams. The members of the community jumped in to fill the actual filters with the different layers of aggregate. A layer of gravel, a layer of sand, a layer of charcoal, and lastly a sponge fill the 12 inch capped PVC pipe segment. The most rewarding piece was working alongside the community members. Several of us were able to have (albeit fractured) conversations with some of the residents. I think that the part we all took away from our project in the morning was gratitude to get to work with these wonderful people.
After lunch, we split up, men and women, to sit down with members of the community and talk. We wanted to hear about their challenges… what were the obstacles they faced in their daily lives? Single motherhood, need for education and access to water (recurring theme, right?) were the main needs on the minds of the women. The school here only goes to 6th grade and the kids have to walk 4-5 km each way to go to the closest high school. There is one high school that offers “Saturday only” high school (intense one day of school and lots of homework for the week), but the distance still proves to be a challenge.
Additionally, damage from natural disasters to their houses had been an issue last year during hurricane Nate. Nicas usually get two harvests per year in the rainy season. They had just planted their second crop when Nate hit, washing away much of their plantings.
Additionally, the high winds blew off many of the corrugated metal roofs (the most common roofing material, even in the city). Even without a hurricane, this particular community is completely cut off from the outside world during the rainy season, because the rivers get too high to cross.
We loaded up the bus (and I mean LOADED UP) with as many people and filters as we could fit and headed out of the community, dropping several residents and filters at their homes on the way. After dinner we regrouped and recounted our experiences of the day. Many of us expressed the sense of mutual respect and camaraderie we felt working alongside the members of the community. We also shared what we might take back with us to relay to others… the faces and stories of the people were serving here. Hopefully our faces will stay with them after we leave as well. Hopefully they’ll remember how much we are inspired by them and value this time with them. I know we won’t be forgetting them any time soon.