Jay Gallagher just returned from a visit to Guatemala as a volunteer for Water for Life. He came down for about 3 weeks and stayed very busy with many jobs that need doing at the shop and in the field. Jay comes from Belle, Missouri where he operates Custom Pump and Well Drilling.
He became interested in Water for Life as a result of an on-line forum sponsored by the National Ground Water Association and reading about us in this journal and visiting our booth at NGWA conventions. This was his third trip as one of our volunteers. Each visit has been a little bit longer as he has found more and more things where his talents can be useful.
Jay is an excellent detail man and has done a lot of pump repair and refurbishment in villages where the pumps have failed or are failing. He maintains a log of what he has done and helps us keep track of jobs and sites that need attention. This is a never-ending task as we drill more wells. We now are at 113.
I asked Jay for some observations from this year’s season. He said that there were lots of unexpected repairs and problems, but one by one, each one was dealt with and the whole project moved forward. Unusual things happened. He blew out a tire on one of the Ford trucks and the truck caught fire, but it happened right in front of a big truck shop where help was available. The tire blew and caught fire because a brake stayed engaged. Jay got the truck towed and a few hours and a new brake job later, he was back on the road again.
He met some nice folks in Rio Dulce who operate Casa Guatemala. This is a school for kids with about 200 to 300 people living on site. The school is on the river and can be reached only by boat. They do not have grid power and can use a generator for only about 90 minutes each day. All the rest of the power is solar. Jay was able to survey their water system and give them some advice and gave them another pump to hold in reserve for future problems. Water for Life made a good friend in Rio Dulce.
Through Jay, Greg Evans of Lefty’s Drill Service of Crane, Missouri had donated a used pump hoist. During his spare time, Jay managed to get the hoist installed on the Ford truck and started sorting the hydraulic lines out. This second pump service truck will be a real blessing to us. The other truck is a cab-over Isuzu. It is good for highway use, but for many of the roads, it is simply not suitable.
Jay is planning on coming again next year and perhaps will extend the time he is with us. He sees the need and enjoys making a difference in the lives of people who otherwise would not have access to clean water. He extends the invitation to others to come and help. There is a lot to do, the food is good, the people are friendly, the work is hard, but it is very rewarding.