Monday, January 28, 2013
My New Year 2013 began with a spirit of adventure and service. I traveled to Guatemala to participate in a project designed by Engineers without Borders (EWB) – UWM Chapter. I spent a week in a small village called Visiban located in the Mayan region of the Cuchumatanes Mountains in Northwestern Guatemala.
The team consisted of two professional mentors and six UWM students. Their project this time was to build a Spring Box. Most springs in a mountainside do not have a steady or adequate flow rate. A Spring Box is a structure engineered to make optimum use of a natural spring. It functions as a point of collection of water and also to protect the spring water from contamination. The EWB team had designed the Spring Box and they oversaw its construction by the local masons.
The team also educated the local population about the importance of clean water and the need for good hygiene related to water. The outreach involved relationship building with the village elders (la committee), speaking in Spanish, communal living in one room in a school house using sleeping bags, no electricity and usual amenities, and slippery terrain in the mountains at an altitude of 10,000 ft. where it rained often. Temperatures were in the 40s at night and 60s during the day.
The Spring Box was successfully built and a steady flow of water was achieved from it. The next phase is to build a Holding Tank and then to pump the water to the village at about 600 ft. above. This is an unusual approach due to the lack of power infrastructure. Most of the Distribution Tanks built by EWB in this area during the past five years use gravity fed water distribution. In this village, there was no choice but to use a spring at a lower altitude and to pump the water up. Here, EWB will need a significant amount of sponsorship to pump the water up to the village of Visiban. A fund raising event will be held on Feb. 23, 2013 by silent auction beginning at 3:30pm in the Union Building at UWM. For details, please contact me at Tel: 414-227-3121 or email me at email@example.com