| Sep 22, 2015
Receiving Water in New Ways
Part of the Rainwater Harvesting Roof
Hello! My name is Alex Terrill and I have been volunteering at Long Way Home for the past two and a half months.
From day one, it was like a whole new world. I started learning about green building, recycling, the town of Comalapa, and how Long Way Home is making a difference here. My first assignment was to work with Roberto Peren at one of the Earthships that Long Way Home built on the hill above the school. We got to know each other as we organized the trash bottles and mixed the cement we would use for the veranda and rain collection improvements. Roberto is a Comalapan native and an artist like his father. During his off hours, he paints beautiful local masks and rituals in his own unigue style. A knowledgeable man of the area, he would offer history lessons and explanations over apples and chips during our breaks in the shade. My new friend also found a puppy wandering in the street and brought her up to the site as a gift; I call her Pistolera.
My admiration for the local people continually grew as the weeks passed and I saw and learned more of their town. Friendly greetings of “Buenos dias” or “Buenas tardes” are commonplace as are the little kids practicing their English salutations of repetitive “bye-bye-bye-bye”s that make you smile and keep waving until they are out of sight. The people here also possess a strong work ethic and can be found working in their shops or in the fields seven days a week. They are welcoming with their generosity and I was treated to a delicious birthday celebration lunch with one of the local families shortly after my arrival in Comalapa. When you stop in at the shops or grab a bite to eat in town, conversations will often to turn to praise or thanks to the volunteers and the workers building the “escuela de llantas” (tire school). Unsolicited comments like this really make the volunteers feel welcome and part of something larger in the community.
This August, Long Way Home partnered with the Engineers Without Borders group from the University of Minnesota to bring water from the lower elevation springs to a central collection point in the nearby village of Xiquin-Sanahi. The joint group worked for two weeks straight to finish the project in time. The town turned out to celebrate the success of the project with them once the last day of work was finished. The town now has gravity fed water, meaning they no longer have to walk to the lowest point in town and return with jugs of water for their house. Instead, they can now visit more centralized points, making life much easier for all the households. More than 125 families also have water running to their homes for the very first time!
Construction at the school site is also progressing. Two septic tanks are now finished as is the water collection roof. Every time it rains, we are able to harvest 3,225 gallons per inch that falls! The team has also been working hard to finish the next series of rooms and every week they have visible progress towards the finished product. Materials are being gathered and we hope to start the next building shortly!
With the new life I was building here, and the awesome impact this project is making, I wanted to stay and continue to contribute. Matt Paneitz, the Executive Director, and the rest of the team agreed and I am looking forward to formally joining the team next month! I know that this project is possible because of the generous donations offered by Long Way Home's Global Giving supporters and I wanted to say thank you! Follow us on Facebook to see updates on our progress and how we are moving forward.
Pistolera the Pup, with her new Aunt Zelda
Engineers Without Borders - Twin Cities in Xiquin
Alex helping our student, Miguel, with the race!