We only have a week left in Ciudad de Dios! It seems like we have just arrived…and now it is almost time to leave. In the past month, we´ve done a million different things, but there is still so much left to do and a ton of stuff we had hoped to accomplish but did not.
The water system is speedily nearing its completion. All of the pipes in town have been laid, and the trenches have been refilled. All 3 km of trenches have been dug for the main pipeline, and all but 1 km of the pipes have been laid (and the trenches refilled). The springbox (or caja de captacion) has been constructed and is almost ready for use.
Despite our amazing rate of progress, we’ve hit a small snafu…well actually, a pretty decently sized snafu. A major donation that we had been counting on has fallen through, and so MOCHE is struggling to finish the project with its limited budget. There was a huge miscommunication between the project and the the organization donating–apparently they cannot give funds to a project that is already underway. We have about 200 pipes left to purchase, and at $17 a pipe that means we need $3,400. We should be able to get these pipes in the ground pretty quickly once we have the money, so we are still hoping to get the system finished before we leave a week from today. The system will get finished even if not until after we leave, but our presence means MOCHE does not have to hire additional labor (which they simply don´t have the funding for).
If you are interested in making a tax-deductible donating, go to savethemoche.org. There will be a paypal account on the site pretty soon. The website won´t be updated for a few more days, but check back with it if you would like to donate! Every dollar gets us so much closer to putting the final pipe on the line…Ciudad will have water soon!!
MOCHE built a school house for Ciudad last year, and Peruvian law states that the government mustprovide teachers for a community if the people provide a school house. However, the law also states that the school must have water in order for teachers to be provided. This means that as soon as the water system is up and running, Ciudad de Dios will be able to send its children to school in town, rather than being forced to send their children to nearby communities on foot via a busy highway.
So…since our work on the water system has slowed, we are also focusing our energy on our other endeavors…
The Water Committee is a six member team that has been elected by the community to direct the setup and maintenance of the system. They are in charge of all of the legal issues surrounding the water system, including writing the rules for water usage and registering every tap in town. The committee is more than capable of running this system successfully, but they are currently facing a lack of confidence from themselves and from the community. The constant gossip in the community makes it difficult for Committee to gather the appropriate amount of authority and respect.
Creating a sense of ownership is a big hurdle for this community, largely due to its roots as a squatter settlement and to the heavy involvement of outsiders (us) in their development. Given some time and a little push, we are hoping that the people will become increasingly more invested in their own development. There is already a sense of pride in their community and how far they have come. The Water Committee is certainly a step in the right direction, because it places responsibility for the system directly in the hands of the community.
The mural in the Plaza de Armas now has a celeste colored sky, a range of tobaco mountains, and the phrase “¡Bienvenidos a Ciudad de Dios!” emblazzoned in rojo lettering across the center. There is still a lot of wall to be painted (it is a 42 m long wall!), but we should be finished before the end of this week. It is looking fantastic so far, and our group just purchased more paint to make sure we will get the whole thing painted.
On Thursday we began our education programs with the kids! After a very chaotic but productive hour of painting with them on Wednesday, we were understandably anxious to see how our own little lesson in the escuela would go. Jorge, Felipe, and Esther did a remarkable job of corralling the rambunctious crowd into a classroom and getting them to actively participate in the lesson. After learning about the water cycle and conservation, the kids got to draw and color.
At the end of the week, we are planning to havea community-wide Water Education Day. We will be explaining the water system and why water usage and conservation are important in this region. We will also be talking about hygiene and sanitation and its importance to health. Hopefully, this session will help foster a sense of responsibility for the system and begin to get the community thinking about health issues (something MOCHE will be tackling soon…)
So…despite all of the confusion, and despite the fact that nothing ever ever goes as planned here, we are still managing to make huge strides and we are all learning some invaluable lessons. Check back for more updates on the project, and please consider donating to MOCHE!!