Engineering intern, Peter Wagenmaker, writes:
You don't know me. Probably. I am a civil engineering student at Calvin College here in Ecuador with Life Giving Water Int'l for 10 weeks. Over the first two weeks, a group of ten from the Clean Water Institute of Calvin College visited numerous communities with Bruce.
Our four nights in the village of Castug were cold. We slept in sleeping bags on mattresses set upon a concrete floor. This floor supported rather thin walls which had fully surrendered to the subzero temperature outside. But each morning we were welcomed warmly with wide smiles. At each meal, the Quichua community fed us more than most of us could eat in one sitting - even I barely pulled out with victories! Not limited to quantity, they served us meat, often cuy (guinea pig), at every meal! These accommodations were part of their payment for the two chlorine pumps we brought them to install.
The first morning in Castug we tested the water quality and chlorine content at their well. As noon rolled around, we had been severely shown up by the Castug-dwellers' superior trench-digging abilities. The community did the real work to install both the primary and backup chlorine pumps. Still, they were clearly quite encouraged by our interest in their access to potable water, for which they have worked hard for decades.
Much of the rest of the trip was similarly set up; we visited numerous other communities and tested their water to get an idea of how well the disinfection methods are working and what adjustments may be needed. We also came to appreciate the difficulties and resources available to communities who pursue clean water here.
Five of the other seven students are now conducting further trip-related research back at Calvin for the rest of the summer. The completed disinfection study will be informed by approaches from engineering, chemistry, psychology, and international development.
The next two weeks I studied Spanish in downtown Quito and stayed with an Ecuadorian family a lovely two hour walk away (I only did this once and usually took a bus). Starting this week, I will continue to monitor some of the sites to better pinpoint potential corrections, provide data to Calvin's study, and exercise flexibility as other opportunities come up.