After 8 years of working alongside our sister community, El Rodeo, El Salvador, the WES Global Connections Committee is ecstatic to share life-changing news: The Water Project has received a commitment from Engineers Without Borders to fund the second phase of the water project 100%.
Global Connections Delegation Report 2018: Moving Towards the Dream
You know the Margaret Mead quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Well, we have living proof of her adage. Eight years in the making, our sister community in El Salvador, El Rodeo, is within reach of a dream come true: potable running water to every home in their community. And WES Global Connections Committee and WES members have remained committed every step of the way to the people of El Rodeo to help them realize this dream.
Every summer since 2010 WES has sent a delegation to El Rodeo, a tiny community of approximately 31 houses and 130 people in the mountains of El Salvador. In the summer of 2011, through a detailed community process, El Rodeans unanimously identified clean, running water as their top priority. No one knew at the time what it would take to achieve this goal, but if El Rodeo was committed, so was WES.
Listing the many steps between setting a goal and creating a water system reveals only a fraction of the lengthy process, but not the effort and tenacity that each step required. A water source was identified in the community; the water quality and flow had to be tested; the water source had to be purchased; a water system had to be designed; a holding tank had to be constructed; a distribution system has yet to be built; and funding for all of the above had to be obtained.
ADES (a regional Salvadoran economic and social development organization) (http://www.adessantamarta.sv/en-us/) and CoCoDa (Companion Community Development Alternatives) (https://www.cocoda.org/) partnered with WES to plan and coordinate the water project. Funding for building Phase I came primarily from Rotary International and WES members. El Rodeo residents kept the process moving forward, provided labor and onsite coordination.
During the WES delegation’s visit in June, the fantastic news came that funding has been secured from Engineers Without Borders (Basque, Spain) for Phase II: the water distribution system. This involves installing solar panels to power a pump, which will deliver the water from the holding tank to another tank at the top of the mountain. From the upper tank the treated water will flow through pipes to each home in the community, the school and beyond. Training for metering and implementation was also included in the funding. Phase II completion is anticipated for early 2019.
One by-product of Phase I was the construction of a WES/GC funded three basin pila (for clothes washing and bathing) with a small semi-private bathing area, all under roof and complete with concrete floor. Photos and video show community members sharing the backbreaking work of clearing and leveling the land for the holding tank and the new pila with hand sledges and chisels. (See Cristina Starr’s video footage of the community working on clearing the site https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEuRQqplcoM&t=22s) The new pila was full to the top with water. Bathing there seemed a luxury to WES delegates, with the added benefit of lively conversations with community members as they bathed or washed clothes.
Along with annual activities in the community (meeting with the ADESCO — El Rodeo’s community council, the free dental clinic, community projects and children’s activities, upgrading and restocking the Little Library, communitywide trash pick-ups), first time delegates Christina and Gaby provided CPR training and first aid instruction. The community-building trip this year took delegates and nearly 70 El Rodeans to two Mayan archeological sites, San Andres and Joya de Ceren, to acquaint everyone with El Salvador’s prehistory. After an intense, busy, exhilarating week in El Rodeo, it’s time to say goodbye to our friends, old and new…until next year!
For an update on the water project and a presentation on this year’s delegation, join Global Connections for an evening of Water and Wine, September 7, 7:30- 9 pm at the home of Susan Runner. RSVP to 202-440-2174 (space is limited). If you would like to participate in a future delegation, please contact Ross Wells (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Peggy Goetz (email@example.com).