This past January, February, and March, Water for Life International, continued efforts to bring clean water to the villages of rural northeast Guatemala.
Water for Life International has been granted 501(c) (3) status as a tax exempt organization by the IRS. We can now accept donations directly and give tax deduction letters to donors. We have established a bank account in Guatemala, and will retain the services of an attorney to register our corporation there as a foreign non-profit corporation.
The drilling efforts resulted in new wells in five villages that previously had no reliable access to clean water.
At Santa Crux, good water is now being produced from a well about 160 feet deep. A hand pump was installed there because there is no grid power at this village. The drilling there was by John Hansen and Sam Knesal.
In the village of El Pato, which is a bone jarring journey 15 miles off the highway that takes about 1.5 hours to travel, a well was finished to a depth of 180 feet. A hand pump was placed there also. This village had only seasonal water before. In the dry seasons the villagers had to walk 4 kilometers to get good water. When the rig arrived after dark one night the villagers were all out yelling and whooping their approval. Dave Rutledge and Dominic Parmantier, both of the Seattle/Tacoma area, drilled this well.
Jabonche` is a village in an area that is high and dry. The drilling was done in a dry hole for the first 400 ft. The tools were lost deep in the well, but were fished out after 4 days of hard work. Bucky Mowrey from Ohio and his helper Speedy Gonzales (true name) worked on this well. Our efforts ended at the drilling limit for this rig of 560 feet which is all the cable on the rig. There is enough water there for a hand pump but the water is deep in the well. A volunteer group, Engineers without Boarders, is working on this problem of bringing the water to the surface in this area of no power.
A hand pump was placed in a previously drilled well at Saboneta. Although on the grid, the villagers are unable to get power to the well, because there is no way to pay for the transformer and for the connections to the power system. There is a water distribution system in the village, and an electric pump could be installed if the power problem could be resolved.
The village of Achiotalito has a well about 120 feet that was drilled by Bob Perry of Spanish Fork, Utah with Kyle Robison of Newport, Washington helping him. A hand pump was placed there which is delivering good water to the people.
In the village of Ixyuc a well was drilled to a dept of about 100 feet. Plenty of water is available but we did not have a hand pump to install there. Glen Frachiseur of Priest River, Idaho was the driller with Kyle Robison helping.
We were unable to take either drilling rig outside the country. Paperwork issues that developed, did not reassure us that when we brought the rig back, we would not have to pay import duty all over again. We decided that the risk was unacceptable at this time.
This past season one of the major efforts we engaged in was to finish building up the shop building on the campus of ICAP. This building is our headquarters. It is a large structure 40 x 60 feet. There are large overhangs at the eves and tucked under them are two containers which function as secure storage. This building is large enough to house our rigs and trucks and necessary shop equipment for the continuation of our work.
In the rear of the building, the roof has been extended and we finished 4 apartments for housing the volunteers who come and work on the projects. These units can house up to 20 people. Each has a bathroom. There is a large common porch which can function as a meeting place for all the volunteers. It is a beautiful and very useful building to us.
We have established a good relationship with the local mayor. He had been very helpful to us and we have accepted his suggestions and assistance about where to drill wells. The mayor has provided us a document which will help us if one of our vehicles is stopped by the police for no license or some problem. There are literally hundreds of small villages throughout the area and he is very happy that we have helped him serve the people of his district.
One year ago we installed a merry-go round pump in a village called La Canoa. One of our volunteers was told at that time that 3 babies had died in the last year and that at least one every year before that had died. Our volunteer went back to the village to see how the pump was working and spoke with the women. In the year that they have had clean water, not one infant has died.
We have a group of dedicated drillers from across the US who traveled to Guatemala to drill in the villages. Some of them were on their third trip to help us. These fine men and women really do the hour by hour and day by day work which makes this miracle of clean water happen. There is more to do.