Jul 3 2016

First Experiences

Over the course of the summer, three Walla Walla University students will be living in Peru as student missionaries, working on behalf of EWB to organize our current electrical project in the community of Japura. Alex Yañez and Lauren Pernu, both recently graduated, are civil and mechanical engineers respectively and are responsible for the technical aspects of the project. Alex also serves as our Spanish translator, and Stephanie Septembre (myself) is in charge of needs assessment and collecting promotional material. Our goals over the summer are to build relationships with Japura community members, finalize project contracts, and purchase building materials so the next team will be able to start construction immediately.
The team arrived in Peru on June 22 and spent the first few days in Cuzco acclimatizing to the elevation, which is approximately 11,000 feet. We were fortunate to be there during Cuzco’s biggest festival, Inti Raymi, which is a re-enactment of Incan celebrations of the winter solstice. Singing and dancing lasted all week, giving us a first-hand look at Peruvian culture.
On June 25, we arrived at our permanent residence, Camp Chuquicahuana, which is an ADRA center about an hour and a half outside of Cuzco. The director of the camp, Pulsiano, serves as our driver, Quechua interpreter, and Peruvian father. His wife, Hilda, is the head cook, and every meal since our arrival has been the equivalent of a gourmet restaurant buffet.
The past week has been spent investigating various options for EWB’s electricity project. We are collecting information to decide whether to proceed with a hydro, solar, or combination system. Our first task involved investigating the nearby community of Labramani, which owns a stream that would be capable of producing necessary electricity for Japura. The trip involved an hour hike through incredible landscape, and Labramani community members were eager to help us collect data. One family graciously invited us for tea and freshly-baked potatoes, and they offered to adopt us if we were interested in staying. Unfortunately, our work in Labramani virtually eliminated the possibility of using their stream; however, we are still hoping to collect data from smaller streams in Japura to see whether they are capable of supporting a hydro system.
In regards to a solar system, we discovered that the government has provided rural families near Puno with electricity via solar panels. Though it is several hours from the ADRA center, Pulsiano drove us to the site where we were able to collect data and interview families about how their electrical system works. All the individuals we encountered were very pleased with their system, which has given us a more promising outlook for installing a similar design.
Our current task is preparing for Japura’s general assembly, which will take place on July 5th. With all families and community leaders present, we will be able to exchange information and hopefully clear up any misunderstandings either party may have. Based on the information they give us at this meeting, we hope to select the appropriate system and proceed to have community members and the municipality sign contracts.

Sep 12 2015

Week 9 – Near Project’s End

Yet another week has passed, however this one was very eventful! In short, the project is nearly done! As of Thursday afternoon, we had two of the three spring sources ready to fill the system, with just a couple connections to get the third one ready, and fixing one tapstand that had a slight malfunction.

To get to that point required a hard-working week, but everyone kept pushing to make sure we made it. At the beginning of this week, we had one tank foundation and the springbox foundation poured, roughly half the pipeline laid out, and even less of it fully connected. Over the week, we poured the second tank foundation, springbox and valve box walls, two catchments to collect water from three springs, and five tapstands. This was in addition to laying out the rest of the pipeline, making sure all the connections were tight, and testing what we could. Needless to say the community contributed a lot, including pouring all the concrete and transporting the bulkier and heavier materials up the hill. Our team focused on the pipeline and connections, as that was our relative expertise. Both parts had their headaches, and they constantly required working together in order to succeed. Many of the pipe sections had to be prepared before pouring could occur, and they system was often used, in whatever state it was in, to provide water for mixing concrete. Every night consisted of a planning session to figure out what exactly we could accomplish the next day, and what was needed at that particular location in order to finish it. Add on to all this that we had sickness spreading among a few of us because of extra elevation, exertion, and labor, and it made for very busy week. However, as I mentioned before, the work has paid off and we are so very near done. With any luck, the last couple things were finished Friday afternoon by a few of us, and we will have a completed and working system for our inauguration ceremony on Monday afternoon.

While this trip has been a conclusion of sorts for all of us after having spent a year working on this project in some way, this trip also marks a beginning for a few of us. A few of us spent some of our time here taking surveys and gathering data for our next project here, a micro-hydro project to provide power to one small region that is too far removed from the country’s power grid. With Chris and Kathrin leading the way assisted by our outstanding faculty and professional mentors, I am sure that this micro-hydro project will progress even better than our nearly completed water project.

While we still have the last couple parts of the project and the inauguration ceremony remaining, some of us unfortunately have to return early for previous responsibilities and plans. This weekend yet, two of our team, Noe and Alexa, and our professional mentor, Joel, are all flying home. The rest of us have a few days remaining, with the last of us flying out Wednesday afternoon. Until then, we are spending our little remaining time absorbing what we can of the country that has become our temporary home. Some of us headed to see Machu Pichu yet this weekend, and for all our sakes, hopefully we won’t be rained out like Noe and I were when we visited earlier this summer.

There may yet be a couple posts, and more than anything, hopefully a video of various aspects of our project. Regardless, all of us in EWB-WWU owe a humongous thank you to all of you for supporting our efforts to help these people. Without your support, in whatever form it takes, none of this would have been possible. Thank you!

Until next time!

-Kendall Heinrich

Sep 6 2015

Week 8

It is currently 8:00 AM this Sunday morning, and we are preparing to eat breakfast and head out early bavck to Japura. Last week proved to be pretty productive, even with a few setbacks. On Friday, the foundations for one of the tanks and the springbox were poured and left to set. We did experience some setbacks in the form of community members not being there and some key materials still needed. Many of the community members left to go to Pitumarca, the municipality seat, for a meeting until Tuesday. Thankfully some of them are still around to work, and the foreman is still with us. The plans have changed as the project has gone one, but that’s typically expected when we find things that weren’t considered initially. Not to mention the time constraint we’re under to finish. Fingers crossed for much more progress this week!

This weekend was pretty relaxing, some of us went to a local church, and later to a nearby lake. Overall a much needed break from working. Especially with the opportunity for hot showers here at Camp Chuqi after no opportunities for a week!

This next week we hope to finish the project, though such a goal won’t be easy. In the least we want to finish a majority of the project so that the next week we only have a day or so worth of work remaining.

This weekend is also when Jim heads back home, though thankfully we have Joel here to guide us on the rest of the project!

Next weekend we’ll be going to Machu Pichu, and that means wifi, and thus more updates! And hopefully some pictures too!

Until next time!

– Kendall Heinrich

Aug 30 2015

Flashback – Week 3: Peruvian Independence Day

This week marked a series of celebrations around Peru for their Independence Day from Spanish rule. Celebrations essentially last three days for the country, Monday-Wednesday. Monday was the big celebration, and we went to one of the local parades in Pitumarca. Our primary intention was just to see the parades, but we knew that there was a chance we would march too, as many communities participate in the parade to show the projects they are working on with the municipality. Naturally our project for EWB fell in this category. So near the end of the parades through the town plaza, we lead the community down the main street as part of their project.

The unexpected thing happened after the parades. During the parades, we were sitting in the bleachers right by the main street, and we saw the mayor and some other important government people pass by us and they greeted us as they saw us (I kind of stand out as the only white person there). Well afterwards, we were invited into a small auditorium in the government complex because they were having a small service for the community leaders, key municipality members, etc. So we entered and intended to sit about midway up the seat of chairs. We were stopped. And ushered onto the stage to sit with the mayor and other key members. Unexpected to say the least. The service consisted of a few short speeches, a excerpt reading of their consitution, a toast, and a small meal.

Overall the day took a few unexpected turns. It was reassuring to see the community and municipality value our presence, as there were many times that seemed in question with the difficulties they gave us.

Not sure if I explained that terribly clearly, but it’ll have to do. I’ve spent all day trying to get a pump to work and I’m tired.

Until next time.