Today (Wednesday) was another busy day. On Tuesday evening, the muni had given us four suggested communities to visit. We reviewed the list and prioritized them based on accessibility (distance from the nearest road) and scope (number of families benefited). On Wednesday morning we set off for Pampachili, an annex of Labraco located a 55 minute drive from Pitumarca. The community of 14 families was spread more than 1 km across a hillside in clusters of 4-5 houses.
Some homes received water from a spring, but the pipe was too small, causing a blockage called “air locking.” Other homes obtained water from an open channel that was prone to contamination. Surprisingly, the community didn’t suffer from any water-borne illnesses. We huffed and puffed up the hill to the spring box (water source) located near the top of Mt Rainier (at 14,250 ft). It’s pretty amazing that every community that we visit is near the same elevation as the highest point in the U.S. (excluding Alaska).
Jim tinkered with the blocked pipe, locating a high point and poking a hole in the pipe to allow air to escape. Water began flowing again! The “fix” is temporary since the pipe’s small size makes it prone to block again. We chatted with community members (including the president) from three separate clusters of homes. The first lady was too busy sorting potatoes to take any interest in the newly-restored water source.
The second lady asked if we could maintain their water system for them. Neither impressed us as enthusiastic partners with a strong need and a commitment to maintain existing infrastructure. We had time to visit one more community. Would we find a compelling need and an earnest partner?