Posted by: calloftheandes | June 18, 2010

Community Celebrates “the day when clean water flowed” in Pichan

photos by Martin Harrison

story by Cherith Rydbeck & R. Kurtenbach

A cold steady April drizzle in Ecuador’s highlands didn’t prevent more than 200 people from gathering in the remote farming community of Pichan to dedicate a new clean water system. These hardy families commemorated the occasion with the Ecuadorian national anthem, followed by songs by schoolchildren.

Bladimir, pastor of the small evangelical church in Pichan, remarked how the water project united the community, whereas past community events sometimes served as an excuse for drunkenness and occasional fights.

Attributing the project’s success to God, Bladimir said previously it would not have been likely that God would be credited for such an advance.

The project has also prompted new energies in the church and in other areas of development. The evangelical church is grasping the power of Christ-centered community development in proclaiming God’s kingdom through words and actions to those skeptical of the gospel message,  according to Bruce Rydbeck. He directs water projects with Vozandes Community Development.

“We never thought we would see the day when clean water flowed in this community.”

Roberto Guapi, José Atupaña, and Efrain Morocho spent a lot of time in Pichan, building relationships, along with the project.

“Thank you so much for coming here to live and work among us,” an elderly lady said, her calloused hands clasped as if speaking to God as she spoke to the HCJB Global Hands team. “We never thought we would see the day when clean water flowed in this community.”

Several years ago, Vozandes Community Development responded when Pichan community leaders requested help to build their clean water system. Team members helped them with design and project supervision.

For their part, each family in Pichan put in months of hard manual labor to dig pipe trenches, protect springs, build reservoirs and build modest toilet facilities for each home. In addition, some other important aspects of hygiene were improved.

During the ceremony, community leaders expressed thanks. HCJB Global’s Hermann Schirmacher spoke on behalf of the German Mennonite mission, Mennonitisches Hilfswerk, that helped finance the project. Pichan residents also displayed their gratitude by giving homespun wool ponchos and shawls to the each member of the community development staff who was present.

Others were involved as well. “This is the project that the team from Skipton Baptist Church [in Yorkshire, U.K.] worked on in 2008 when they camped in the snow at the springs,” said team member Ruth Harrison.

After the formalities, guests and local dignitaries were served a wonderful meal with large servings of locally produced food, including soup, meat, corn, potatoes and rice cooked over wood fires. The men played volleyball and children enjoyed the day off from school.

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