(one of the many planning meetings)
The water committees are comprised of extremely hospitable, knowledgeable, delightful people. Each and every time we have met with them they have fed us lunch and it is always quite the feast, meat and soft drinks included (more expensive items usually reserved for special occasions and honored guests). They have been incredibly patient with us as we have struggled to communicate in Malagasy and educate ourselves about the complex issues of water systems. I'm certain I've learned more from them during this process than they have from me.
We've had countless meetings where we've tried to flesh out exactly what needs to be done. This has included bringing in another PCV, Meghan Wahlstrom, who has a background in engineering and is especially knowledgeable about gravity-fed systems, to help; sketching basic designs of the existing system and needed adjustments; using equipment to survey the land; and finally submitting a request for funding to Appropriate Projects, an initiative of Water Charity.
THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN!! So many of you back home have asked what you can do to help me in my service or to help the people of Madagascar. Well, here's an opportunity! Appropriate Projects funds small-scale water projects (around $500 or less) exclusively for current Peace Corps Volunteers in countries around the world. Once they have approved a project, they fund it AND THEN try to raise the money. My project has been approved, but they have not yet received any donations in its name. Even if I fail to raise money, my project will be completed, but it's a great initiative, and if we raise more than the minimum amount, the money will go to help other PCV's with other projects. You can access our project HERE or look through other projects on the site.
(Meghan and Chacha helping survey the land)
You can read all about the project on that link, but I will provide a basic run-down here. We are planning to keep the projects separate for the two hamlets. We're starting with Zanabahona I and once we complete this project we will follow-up with Zanabahona II. The water system currently in use is very old (nearly 25 years), though still works very well. Zanabahona I needs only a few minor repairs: adding an additional water source to increase water flow in the driest months, as well as replacing a few broken valves and the pipes which surround the valves. These repairs will help keep the maximum amount of water possible flowing through the system and will also make it easier to repair the system in the future. The community is also contributing to the project by covering a few costs such as transportation and providing labor such as digging ditches for some of the new pipes. Community members and the water committee will also attend educational sessions on water & sanitation that I will conduct in conjunction with local community health workers.
(one of the places with broken valves)
Thank you so much for your interest in my blog, the project, and a small contribution to help the wonderful people in my village here in Madagascar. Please help me spread the word! I can't wait to update once we've finished this project!