Saturday, July 05, 2008

Filters by candlelight, Poetry in the bus terminal

It seems that the universe has forced us to stop for a moment and catch our breath. Thursday night we caught a bus from Ascension to Santa Cruz after spending about a week with our COBAGUAL team members and much was discussed. Some highlights of the week were:

- Accompanying Roberto, our senior community assistent on follow-up visits where filters had been installed. This particular neghbourhood in Ascension seemed particularly poor with noticebly contaminated water sources. The surprise house visits showed that people were really embracing the filters and new safe storage containers that the team has implemented, and also gave us insight it the great work that Roberto is doing connecting with the community

- Attending a night time COBAGUAL workshop put-on by the team in a neighbourhood without electricity. Roberto, Trevor and I each had a motorbike taxi driver take us from the light of the town´s core to total obscurity. Community members congregated in the nighbourhood president´s home using candlesticks, flashlights and the occasional cellphone to light the way. Roberto and Angel lead the presentation wearing their new COBAGUAL t-shirts (a big thank you to Trevor´s uncle and aunt, Roy Topley and Joanne Porter for their great designs of the to follow soon!). It was really cool to hear the way the team presented the filter project to the community.

- Meeting the Sub-Prefecto, the head honcho of the Province of Guarayos within the department of Santa Cruz. To be perfectly honest, I think we both had an image in our minds of what a head of government in Santa Cruz might be like (akward cough..) but this man was so incredibly genuine and welcoming. More importantly, he is willing to actually support our work in the surrounding communities of Ascension. Hooray for more community counterpart!

- Hearing about the cool work being done by Daniel and Vanessa Beams with their well drilling techniques in communities throughout the department of Santa Cruz. The technology they´re using is not only a lot more affordable than conventional well drilling, it can also be done manually, thereby involving the community to a greater extent.

So we´re currently in the bus terminal in Santa Cruz, along with our chief filter technician, Felipe. We were all hoping to catch an early morning bus to Cochabamba to meet with two cool groups doing great work in the Cochabamba area: JaraƱa, and CEDESPAR. Unfortunately today was a popular day to travel to the Coch, and our attempts at strategiacally lining up at various bus companies at 6:30am proved unsuccesful, leaving us with some time to kill before boarding on a night bus. Randomly, some of the time was passed with a fellow by the name of Israel , who seemed to be a young poet in love hanging out in the terminal who was hoping to get our help in translating his lines of Spanish poetry into English to send to his girlfriend who lives very far away and only speaks English. We were very impressed at his knowledge of love-related words in English...quite specialized, the way I felt my Spanish was mid-way on the last trip, where I knew all these random terms related to the BioSand filter in Spanish, but still had trouble with day-to-day conversations.

Bueno, that´s all for now...chau!

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