Posted by: calloftheandes | February 19, 2010

Voice and Hands Combine Efforts for Clean Water in Ecuador

by Kay Burgi and Ralph Kurtenbach

Abandoning computer keyboards for shovels and picks, an HCJB Global Voice team is representing the hands of Jesus in Ecuador, providing manual labor and clean spring water for a rural Quichua community high in the Andes.

“This is a great opportunity for hands on mission experience for many of our people,” said Geoff Kooistra, who directs radio services at Radio Station HCJB in Quito.

Preparation for the project under way in Lirio San José, a community in Chimborazo province, began weeks ago with individual and group fundraising.

Reporter Cristian Zurita washed cars when not writing and voicing newscasts. Kooistra baked caramel rolls which fellow staffers snapped up for themselves and co-workers at their morning coffee break. Accountant Xavier Gallegos donated his earnings from tax preparation work. The team also staged a bake sale on the grounds of the radio station.

Others also gave cash to help cover the seven-person team’s living expenses for working a week in Lirio San José. At the dizzying altitudes more than 13,000 feet, they are digging trenches and cooking their own meals. They sleep in camping tents set up inside a building.

Team members are working alongside local residents to protect the spring water source for the water system. A design has been prepared for substantial renovations to improve the community’s existing water distribution system. It will be implemented when the community is ready for that step and when funds are in hand to purchase the materials.

As with other water systems designed by the mission’s Clean Water Projects team, community residents will enjoy an uninterrupted supply of clean water at each home when the installation is complete.

Urban office workers, volunteering to serve their rural fellowmen, stands in contrast to the normal social pattern of laborers serving professionals.

Lirio San José, a Quichua Indian community of 120 families, observed the water system completed by a neighboring community with HCJB Global’s assistance, and then approached the Clean Water Projects team requesting their help.

A community’s commitment to do all the manual labor is an integral part of the protocol for a new system. This usually means each family must give several months’ worth of hard labor.

The work at Lirio San José provides a golden opportunity for HCJB Global staffers to stand with a community in its desire to improve the health of its residents and build a better future for coming generations.

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