Jul 27 2015

Week 2

Hello all!

While I intended to post sooner than today, this last week proved to be a lot busier than expected. It started off with us meeting with the municipality again. Now, like in our government in the states, the municipality leaders are voted in. Several, including the chief engineer, have gained office since we started the project, with little to no briefing on what we were doing until we got here. Not only has this delayed our plans, but complicated them as well. Our agreement with the municipality was to cover some of the expenses of the project, predominantly transportation of the materials. However, since he was unware of our project, those costs were not implemented in the budget. Part of our challenge has been negotiating with them in order to come to an agreement so that our project is a success.

Alongside those challenges has been working with the community in order to get the trenchline dug before the rest of the team gets here. At just around 800 meters long, it is not a small task, but with some organizaiton and planning, perfectly doable. Thankfully, the municipality has been helping organize the community to dig by providing a foreman and a couple skilled laborers for the project. Regardless, digging did not start until this last Friday because of finalizing the trenchline markings.

That has been the other challenge, finalizing the trenchline markings. This challenge predominantly comes down to working in a location so far removed from where we all did our design work, back in Walla Walla. Regardless, with a little time and helpful feedback from the rest of the team, we finalized it all and marked it down so that the community can dig it all over the next couple of weeks.

With these challenges, we spent every day this week out either talking with the municipality or up at the community, culminating in three climbs up to the community. Needless to say, climbing at an altitude of 4000-4500 meters over a distance of approximately 4 km is pretty exhausting if you’re not used to it. Thankfully this weekend marks Peru’s Independence Day, which means most of the locals won’t be working, allowing us to catch our breath a bit.

On a fun note, one day after our work in the community, Pulsiano showed us an old Spanish mine near the community. It was not too large, and definitly old. Pulsiano told us it was likely from when the Spanish ruled the country and was used to mine turquiouse and gold. He also told us that the community likely developed in support of the mine, however when the Spanish were forced out, it became a farming and ranching community.

As for the mine, the passageways were small, usually about 1.5-2 meters tall and 1.5 meters wide. We didn’t explore too deeply because we saw a few areas that looked weak and we didn’t want to risk getting trapped in a cave-in. However, we did get to see a small turquoise vein!

To sum it all up, it was sure a busy week, and I’m thankful for a small break before hitting the ground running again this week.

Until next time!

-Kendall Heinrich

Jul 19 2015

Week 1

Hello all!

Week 1 in Peru is coming to a close, and it has certainly been eventful. Between delays in luggage, minor sickness, and rushing headfirst into planning and meeting with people here, it has been packed. Upon our arrival at the ADRA facility, Camp Chuquicahuana, we sat down and  discussed our plans with Willy, who is the regional ADRA manager for the Cuzco area, and Pulsiano, who is the manager of the camp here. After making sure we were all on the same page, Noe and I spent the rest of the day resting and settling in.

Noe, Pulsiano and I

Noe, Pulsiano and I

The rest of the week was spent visiting the regional mayor and chief engineer, visiting the community for our project, scouting out some possibilities for next years potential micro hydro project, and running various errands. It is no surprise that we face some challenges here. Given the language barrier and distance, miscommunication is bound to happen. However that’s part of the reason Noe and I are here. To make sure everyone is on the same page and ready for when  the rest of the project team joins us.

Noe and I with the regional mayor and chief enginner.

Noe and I with the regional mayor and chief enginner.

I hope to be updating this more now that we have a more reliable internet connection. Until next time!

-Kendall Heinrich

Jul 9 2015

T – 2 Days

In 2 short days, Noe Ramirez and myself will be flying down to Peru to begin our 1.5 month preparation in Pampa Chiri!

Until late August, Noe and I will be helping the community prepare for the final implementation of our water project with them. This preparation includes making sure the pipe trench is dug, materials are purchased and transported up, and accommodations for the team are ready. This alone wouldn’t take a month and a half, so Noe and I will also be helping out an ADRA facility that has been a spectacular partner during our work there. While our work with them is still not set in stone, we are both excited to offer whatever help we can, as they have graciously supported our EWB chapter for the last several years.

These two days will go by quickly, even with all the work that remains to be done. Hopefully, throughout our time down there, we will be able to update you all with what is happening, and maybe even provide some pictures of it all!

Until next time!

-Kendall Heinrich

Mar 31 2015

March 2015 Trip = Great Success!

Home sweet home

Okay, really it’s not that big a culture shock, and going a week having to put TP in the trashcan instead of the toilet really isn’t all that bad.

The travel team is safe and sound in the states. We arrived at Walla Walla around 12:00 noon on Sunday, giving us a full afternoon for spring break! And we all made it to our classes Monday morning (at least I think so).

The end of the trip was as great a success as the beginning was. Our team traveled to Peru with the objectives of laying the groundwork for the current water project, as well as scoping out a potential new project.

With the pipeline staked, and relationships developed with the new municipality, Thursday we were left with our final objective: scope out a new project. Through experience, EWB-WWU has developed a list of the tried-and-true qualities of a successful project. We went to Peru with that list and a community application for a new project, and a mindset that we wouldn’t return home without a new project.

It just so happened that Wednesday morning we cooked up some very grand ideas for the community center we were staying at. They developed until our ideas incorporated not just the community center, but the entire community. Well, we took those ideas with us to the municipality on Thursday.

Santos, a prominent community leader, sub-cheese, as well as a mining engineer met with us Thursday morning. We were afraid our luck with the municipality might have been a fluke, but they were receptive and helpful. In fact, it turned out that our new project idea had been applied for 3 months previous to our visit! The necessary signatures were quick to find and all told we likely spent another 3 hours in the municipality.

It felt good to leave the muni on Thursday morning knowing that we had accomplished all of our tasks. We left on good terms with our project partners (perhaps better than we had hoped) and excited for the future of EWB.

Oh, and what is this new project idea that has left us so excited? Why, I’m glad you asked. However, I’m afraid that the details still need to be ironed out, and before that happens, if I told you, I’d have to kill you. I’m confident that an “official” report will come out with a full proposal soon!

-Michael Slusser