Nov 5, 2013

Nepal 2013 Week 4 - We have solar power

Water is flowing down to the tank farm, getting pumped up to the distribution tanks at the school, and then flowing back down around Astam

Category:Nepal 2013 
Posted by: Rome

The sun is out, the rain has stopped and the solar panels are pumping water up to the distribution tanks at the school!  Water is flowing.

It’s been great fun to watch people turn on the spigots we installed and watch clean water come out.  The first thing the giggling kids did was wash their faces and feet.


I’m not sure if it just happened to be laundry day, but women started to bring huge plastic bowls of clothes and bedding and quilts to the wash station, using the water to wash and rinse from one basin to another.  They clearly got the idea that rinse water becomes wash water for the next load.  Colorful plastic bowls were cued up in a line, each belonging to whosever turn it was next!

The week did not go without controversy though.  There is a small stream that we had planned to collect water from and run pipes to tanks that will serve another 30 adjoining families.  Our hosts told us that the location we selected was just fine, so we had sand, gravel and stones delivered there. (It’s about another 15 minute walk from our completed tank farm.)  Well, on the day the materials were delivered, all hell broke loose.  25-30 locals appeared at the site, all shouting and gesturing at one another….veins in people’s necks started to pop out!  Our translator recommended that we pause working at this site for the day as violence might erupt.

In the last few days, lots of conversations have taken place and we can now proceed at that site.  It turns out that one family owns one side of the small ravine and another owns the other side.  In the end they both agreed that collected water was better than water running on the ground and agreed to accept the gift of our work and tanks.

One thing we have learned over the last 5 international projects is that the local community is really never prepared for the assets we install.  No matter how good the translators are, no matter how much advance planning time, no matter how many community meetings are held, it just isn’t real to them until it’s built.  Then the actual work of teaching basic management skills begins….never without ruffled feathers and power plays.  It just takes time and repetition and repetition and repetition.

The best part of the week was that we were invited to join our host family in the celebration of  “Tihar”, the festival of lights.  Everyone gets Tika’d with special colors in the order of their age, youngest first.  Special food is prepared, wine is shared and everyone gets a small special gift.  Early this morning, before the ceremonies began, I was shoveling some gravel into a wheelbarrow with no one else around at the moment.  One of the little neighbor girls came over and gave me a single grain of puffed rice.

“Tihar” she said and motioned for me to eat it.  I hesitated, so she opened her other hand and showed me her grain of puffed rice.  I think my teary-eyed “Danyabad” confused her but she was clearly happy with her gift to me as we ate them together.

I’ve never quite enjoyed a single piece of puffed rice so much.


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