Friday, June 1, 2007

A Well Meeting

The double doors opened and everyone moved from a large office into a conference room. The huge round tabletop was thick wood, dotted with white ceramic ashtrays, the chairs were deep leather. The men that gathered around the table had all seen their fair share of life. Many had survived war, corrupt governments, an impoverished society and they had pulled themselves up through this business. They all drew their chairs toward the table and leaned back, accepting something to drink from the woman in a dark cotton dress with a tray full of coffee cups and glasses.

And there, in the middle trying to politely decline coffee (because I don’t drink it) and coke (because the air conditioner was blasting cold), was me.

Sometimes I feel a little bit out of place, like at the beginning of this meeting with the owner of MacGregor and some of his engineers in Managua. But soon we started talking construction, and the feelings quickly passed.

Raul took the first few moments to introduce what Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos Nicaragua does for the children we are able to take in. Feed and shelter, yes, we do that, but better yet, we also work to create a family and educate children as far as they want to go. Unfortunately, between rising costs and an intermittently active volcano our children have been spread apart. They are all in the best situations possible, some in Managua, some on the island of Omotepe, some in San Jorge, but really we’d like to all be together again. To celebrate occasions together, but more, just to be together in that daily routine family kind of way. And that is why we’re building a new campus. We have the property, next, we need a well.

We’ve already received a bid from MacGregor to drill an 8” well to a depth of 450 feet and install a 15 hp pump to provide approximately 35,000 gallons of water to the orphanage per day. This all corresponds with a water table at around a depth of 250 (corroborated with the water table at our neighbors’ wells) and a drawdown of 40 feet during pumping. Our discussion covered the breadth of the work we need to do in preparation for drilling. Among the general preparations we will be:

· making a more in depth evaluation of our potential future water needs, this includes kids at home and school, staff, visitors, landscaping, agriculture and livestock, etc
· deciding on a place to put the well that takes into consideration it’s relation to all other future buildings, septic tanks, general drainage of the land, placement of power lines, elevated tank and potential cistern
· learning about the fire safety requirements of Nandime, the closest town (in the experience of the engineer at MacGregor, that’s a reserve of about 22,000 gallons at all times)
· applying for permits to dig the well and filling out correctly the extensive accompanying paperwork
· bringing in electrical from the main frontage street to hook up to the well pump

As we left, three hours later, the owner of MacGregor thanked me warmly for coming to Nicaragua to help its people. Given all that this man has done himself already and is offering to do to help NPH, I was speechless (the lack of fluency in Spanish doesn’t help either).

One item (the well) in process, many, many, many more to go!

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