As we traveled to the village it became more and more evident that this was the dry season. There was a heavy haze, blocking the beautiful view of the mountains that I had been looking forward to, a clear result of the still common practice of slash-and-burn agriculture. But we soon discovered that was not the only air pollution; before we left the paved roads our driver suggested we close our windows. In front of us the previously lush green vegetation was now covered in the brownish-red dirt which provides a false hope of a tan. During the dry season the roads are kicked around, spewing a layer of dirt over everything. This presented a stark contrast to the muddy roads that we slipped on in the rain. However, some things have not changed: the people are still so wonderful and the climate is great. Regardless, some people in the outlying areas of Bakang still lack access to safe, potable water for drinking and cooking.
One thing I was excited to see was the maintenance of the solar pilot system. As we approached the system we noticed fences around the tanks and the PV array. After we left, the community erected fences around the key components of the system to protect it from children and animals. Also, each of the spouts on the tanks came off at different times through the year and the community fixed them, much sturdier than we had left them. The community clearly appreciates their new water system and the people are excited to help with any construction for future phases of installation.
This is not an assumption that we can make without hesitation. As the dirt stains our clothing, so is the landscape stained with failed projects, from Scan Water to some building projects that lacked funding, which now lay in ruin. I am certain that this project is sustainable since we are working with the community and they are taking charge. Throughout the country people have heard about our project and are abuzz about reproducing our efforts elsewhere. Public officials, technical people and people from other villages have heard about or seen the water pump in Bakang and the slow sand filters. They are all excited to talk to us and hear from us.
That’s all for now, I need a shower and to get some sleep, busy day tomorrow.
We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. - Sir Winston Churchill