After breakfast we headed back to the fire station and quickly loaded up a couple boxes of food. We weren't going to be assembling or distributing any new water filters, today. Rather, we would be checking the existing ones in the community of Cañita, where we ate lunch yesterday. Cañita is very close to Akua Yala, where we had been yesterday, so the "engineering team" (as we have come to be known as) decided to go back to Akua Yala and examine their existing water infrastructure, and then survey Cañita when we got back. Now, I'd like to go I depth as what exactly the "engineering team" has been doing these past couple days.
Originally, our assignment from Jorge Coromac, CEO of Woodland Public Charity, was really vague but we were asked to look at the water tank for the community of Tanara. But after learning about the community, their water infrastructure, and specific problems the community was facing, Mr. Jorge and I began discussing a very unique opportunity we had. We are able to get a really in-depth understanding of these communities, their water infrastructure, and to create a profile of all this information. This is something that hasn't been done before, and would allow for engineers, geologists, and other people, experienced in this field, to more easily help these people. So starting in Bethel on day 3, Mollie, Julia, and I have been spending most of our day interviewing community leaders, taking measurements and pictures (including a good amount of selfies), and creating in-depth profiles of these communities.
Originally when we were in Akua Yala, we were told there is no water infrastructure of any sort, but about 5 minutes before we left yesterday, I found out there had been a misunderstanding. I personally was very eager to come learn about the system here, as Akua Yala is by far the most under-developed community we have visited so far.
After examining the existing water infrastructure in Akua Yala, we went to the home of a young disabled girl named Yulissa, who some of our team had met yesterday. Jesica had taken a particular interest in this girl and decided she needed to help her. We visited Yulissa's home, and tried to learn as much as we could about her. Jesica took measurements, hoping to go back to the States and find her a wheelchair or other form of accommodation that would allow her family to more easily move her around the community.
Afterwards, we distributed the boxes of food we had brought, courtesy of Stop Hunger Now, and went back to Cañita to meet up with the rest of our friends. Sugey, a local community leader that works at the local clinic, welcomed us into her beautiful home, and fed us an absolutely delicious lunch. Once we were done, we loaded up into the van and drove to the nearby dam. Nearly all of the power in Panama is generated by hydroelectric dams, so I was pretty excited, as I'm sure we all were. After our dam time was over, we headed back to Chepo to freshen up before dinner. Today was an extremely busy, but very rewarding day!
There is a lot of work to be done before anyone should be satisfied with the water infrastructure in the communities we visited. Many of these people have never had access to clean water, and often travel miles to get water from nearby lakes and rivers. If you are interested in helping out, or just learning more about the problems these communities face, I will be more than happy to send you all of our notes. To request scanned copies of the notes, just send me an email at email@example.com. Thank you.