I’d grown up thinking that having access to clean water was my right, when in fact it is a privilege—780 million people in the world lack access to clean water, moreover, 3.4 million people die each year from water-borne diseases.
CLANK! The champagne bottle shattered into multiple glass shards as Vice-President Facundo struck it with a hammer. On Thursday afternoon, the entire team and members of Pucutuni, along with a representative from the muni gathered around one of the four concrete tap-stands we built for an inaugural ceremony, officially marking the end of our work in Pucutuni. We arrived in Peru determined to realize an entire school year’s worth of design. Three weeks later, we are leaving Pucutuni with a fully functional gravity-fed water system.
The first half of Thursday was spent making the final adjustments to the water system: stopping minor links, anchoring the water tanks, installing the spring box overflow pipe, and connecting the last tap-stand. When all of the finishing touches were made, we all gathered together to have a giant lunch. The women from the community had spent all day making a soup for us. Some of us were a bit nervous because they obviously have a different standard of sanitation but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the delicious food they served us.
With the input of the Municipality, the Community, ADRA, and our EWB group, we were able to complete a water system for the community of Pucutuni. We did have challenges along the way, like the road not being completed or the trench not being completed by the time we arrived, but that did not stop us from finishing our goal. Each one of us learned from this trip. The community learned how work with cement, the Municipality learned that EWB is the real deal, and we learned that it is possible to make a complete water system 14,000 ft above sea level. Most importantly, we helped make a water system that should last the families of Pucutuni years.
Though we may never entirely understand what it is to live without clean water (hopefully), the three weeks we’ve spent here in Peru have instilled in us a newfound appreciation for the luxury that is clean water.