Friday, March 18, 2011

It is Signed!

Everybody signed the MOU.

The fruits of two years of hard work by everyone, have been borne! Complete implementation here we come...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Disappointment tastes like

ice cream.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) did NOT get signed today because members of the municipality took issue to how we referenced the name of the town. We planned to get ice cream, Sheel's treat, after the meeting that was supposed to end in the signing of the almost 40  page document  (with appendices) that has been through countless revisions, discussed several times by concerned community members and has been just a tender pain in the hyde to deal with. Today, we made the monumentus accomplishment of finally getting the municipality and the community to agree to the terms of payment and responsibilities of each party. The fruits of two years of hard work from our entire team have almost ripened! But we are still jittery with anticipation for tomorrow afternoon's MOU signing. We took a couple of funny pictures with the new mayor and 'Jackie Chan' and still got ice cream.

In other news, we are having a ton of fun of working on the post implementation report and listening to Justin Bieber on repeat in the internet cafe. Heading to San Pedro tomorrow afternoon, Herbert is hoping for a feast tomorrow and I can't wait for Sheel to buy ice cream for all of us.

Cheers to a great trip, almost over,
More pictures and some reflections up soon. Thanks to all for your interest and support.

Construction Pictures

So the travel team did the difficult hike again today! There were about 40 people from the town there today! View the photos of today's hard work here:

Wednesday's Construction Album 

Just one cool picture from construction at the Upper Pump Station.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Monal's Take on Guatemala Happenings

Hi people!

This is the first time I am posting on the blog!  I would like to thank all those who read our posts and comment on them. It really motivates us to make sure we are productive everyday and have some updates for you all.

The travel team is having a wonderful time here. Last night, Dave talked to us about the projects he works on for CDM and we learned a lot about civil engineering, and how things in the real professional world work. Besides that, the sky was very clear at night we were able to point out a couple constellations and the planet "Saturn" in the sky! But it got really cold at night! I was sleeping with a pair of gloves, two pairs of socks, and a hoodie on and I still shivered! Every morning we wake up with the noises of some bird pecking on the roof, the family chopping wood  and then a random guy selling "queso" really early in the morning. lol

Today, we went to the site with the town architects. The people of the community were already there since 8 in the morning bringing materials like water, wood, cement bags, rebar, sand etc to the site. About 40 people were working at the site. It was sad to see them carry such heavy loads on their backs down the mountain to the pump station. The community seemed very enthusiastic about this. Actually, last night they had a town meeting where they went over the MOU with all the people and also signed up to help out at the site today. An interesting observation here was: they only decided yesterday to call this town meeting and sent a car around the town with a person announcing the meeting on a big microphone. And about 300 families showed up to this meeting to go over the MOU and learn about the project schedule for the next day.

Back to the site visit...we went to the site and they already had a lot of materials there. The architect and Dave went over all the dimensions and instructions with the members of the community who will be building-Miguel and Enrike. It was good to see them ask questions to Dave and the Architect. The Architect made sure that the people understood everything and we made some marks showing dimensions and directions for them. The people planned to finish laying the aggregate for the base slab today.

Later today...we have a meeting with the Water Committee to discuss the MOU...lets see how that goes.

Tomorrow...we are meeting with the Mayor and the Water Committee to really finalize the MOU. I am not sure if we will be able to sign it tomorrow. After that we plan on going to the site again to monitor the progress. The community plans to put in the rebar and pour the concrete for the base slab tomorrow.

Other thoughts....I am learning a great deal about structure construction on this trip! It is really cool to see how so many details go into the construction of a simple concrete chamber. Also, it is lucky for our project to have Mouracio and Wilda (the architects). They will be helping out with the construction and they seem to know what they are doing! Also, I am very happy with the way things are going for our project. WE HAVE TO RAISE ALL THE MONEY TO IMPLEMENT IN JULY! The community is really hoping for it. LET's RAISE SOME MORE MONEY SOON :)

That's all I can think of for now....We will keep you guys posted. I am loving this!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Minutes and Pictures from Sunday and Monday

The travel team used up all their phone calling minutes yesterday so I did not get a call from them. Luckily, I was able to get contact from them today and I have the following for everyone to read and view:

  • On Sunday, the team went from Antigua to NSCI. You can view the pictures of this trip here.
  • On Sunday, in NSCI, the team talked with the water committee. The notes of this meeting, which includes updates from both sides and goals for the rest of the trip, can be downloaded here.
  • On Monday, the team met with the two town architects and visited the site. The Water Committee built a huge hole in the ground! Go here.
  • On Monday, the team met with the two town architects and you can read the meeting minutes here.

Travel Team on the top of the Black Cat Inn in Antigua.

Travel Team with the Water Committee.

The travel team with the host family, wearing their Rutgers gifts.

What a hole!

Adios personas en el mundo,
Brian Goodacre

At the Internet Cafe

Howdy readers!

Natalie here with the team in an internet cafe doing some post impliementation & other project related work. 

The much anticipated post about THE CLIMB. But first a few updates for the project commiteee.

  • We are working on getting the MOU signed. We still are having trouble getting all parties on board because of the water meter situation and some financing issues but hopefully those will be addressed at our meeting today with the Major, architects and Water Committee.
  • The excavation is still underway. Because the volunteers were not aware of the dimensions before they started digging the upper pumpstation is a bit too wide and the lower pump station still needs some work. No worries though, with some quick thinking by Dave Tanzi, we adjusted our desgins for the upper pump station. 
  • We gave Angel and the family the gifts that they prepared and they were very thankful. They thanked us for our work so far and Angel told Monal (la jefa) how proud he was of her work in leading our commitee. Steven and Nancy (Angel's children) want to be engineers as well ;)

After our meeting with the architects yesterday we had a quick lunch and piled into a pick up truck heading for the pump station sites. The road was pretty bump but I got a couple of nice photos of us passing through the clouds. Yes, passing through. NSCI is about 10,000ft above sea level and we were driving up the side of a mountain.

When the truck stopped, it seemed as though we were in just another part of the mountain. Little did we what would happen next...

Okay, enough with the suspense. We arrived to observe the volunteers efforts in excavating the lower and upper pump station sites. But we had to get there first. The slopes were narrow and steep. There was a lot of clumsy slipping and sliding and nervous glances off the edge of the path that we were on. Once we made it to the upper pump station ( a 10 minute descent), Dave offered that this was only the 'upper' pump station... the lower one was much, much lower.

At the upper pump station we took pictures and dimensioned the current state of the hole. As mentioned before, they dug a bit too wide but we made corrections in the design for that. We noted the material on the left side of the hole (which is also the the side of the upper station tank) as it would need to be drilled for the new pumps we want to install. Herbert spoke with the volunters and got them on board with what we were looking for and we left for the lower pump station.

The lower pump station was more like a 15 minute descent and by the time we got there the voulnteers there had left for the day. Again we dimensioned the excavated hole and made note of how much digging was left to do. At the lower pump station there was a nice view of the mountain side and even though we were very high up already, the treetops at the top of the mountain seemed to be at the same level as the sun. I understand why Guatemala is known as 'the land of the high trees'. After a short photo op, we went a bit higher to try to see the springs. We ended up seeing the waterfall and deciding it was time to go back.

Going down was a lot easier...

Dave said most of the difficulty was because we were not used to the evlevation and so we lost our breath quickly. Monal told me about the time when they did the same hike in the pouring rain and I thought not to complain too much. Even so, the slopes were extra steep when going up and it took us twice as long to go up than it did to go down. Not something I am looking forward too again although we made plans to see the sites again tommorrow.

On Wednesday the materials should be at the sites for the begining of construction. We are excited to see that progress.

In other news, spirits in the community are up, our team is hopeful and we have beautiful weather in NSCI today.

Questions, comments, concerns or just miss us wildly? Leave us a comment! Pictures to be up soon.
:) :) :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Pi Day .:) pt 1


Last night was pretty cold--not like New Jersey cold, colder, like (insert analogy here). I slept with a hat and scarf and 3 thick blankets and still ended up shivering. We all weren´t used to this kind of heat, even Monal and Herbert complained. Even so, this was the least of the intensity of today.

Pancakes for breakfast and then meeting with Maricio and Wilda, the new town architects. (Sheel wanted to insert a <3 here)Yes, we liked them a lot. Besides being really knowledgable about the basic designs, the architects knew specifically which materials would we need to buy and how to go about buying them. With his help, the materials have been bought and we feel comfortable leaving him to lead the community´s efforts in the pump station constructions.

  • Sheel: Mr. Health and Saftey
  • Monal: Mona
  • Herbert: Herby or Mr. Herbert or Loco
  • Natalie:Croch Master ( as in crochet... )
Lunch was good, pasta, eggs, guacamole and pan de agua.

Then, the climb ...

-(Nat) CM

They are in NSCI !!!!!!

At 11:38pm EST, I had first contact with the EWB-USA Rutgers Guatemalan travel team. I spoke with Monal, Sheel, and Natalie on speaker phone. I did not hear Herbert or Dave on the other end. They started out telling me that the days are warm and the nights are cold, but everyone already knew this.

In the morning, they drove from Antigua to NSCI on a three hour car ride. After a long and winding car ride, they were introduced to the family who were eager to welcome EWB-USA Rutgers into their house for a fourth time! This was Monal's 3rd time, tying Sandy's World Record. Dave and Herbert have been to NSCI once before while Natalie and Sheel are in unfamiliar territory in the Alaska of Guatemala.

Right away, this awesome travel team jumped into action! After the introductions were finished with the family, who is doing great, they scheduled a meeting with the Water Committee. About 25 members of the W.C. were present. Each side exchanged updates of their past happenings. EWB-USA Rutgers discussed their updates with finding funding and getting TAC approval, along with discussing the pump supplier contract they signed the day. The W.C. then took their turn in telling EWB-USA Rutgers what they had been up to.

The W.C. said they were not able to fully start excavation because it was much harder than they previously expected. It has been delayed for several reasons, including rocks and the location. They were able to get some progress with the Upper Pump Station but have not started the Lower Pump Station yet. Without a town engineer, they had difficulty in understanding the engineering drawings, resulting in additional delays for starting work. In a town meeting with the Muni last week, they learned that the town now has an Architect who can help them. Additionally, the W.C. wants to have a meeting with the Muni and EWB about the water meters. The community likes the idea of water meters but they first want to know how much water they will be getting. The current mayor is a temporary mayor and there will be elections in September. That means many things can change within a few months. Overall, everyone felt that the meeting was successful and productive.

Moving forward, the travel team will be waking up early! Actually, Monal, Natalie, Sheel, and Herbert will be waking up early. Dave gets to sleep in. They all have a meeting with the town Architect at 8am. Together, they will work together to calculate the materials that will be required and they may go and purchase the materials tomorrow after determining what is needed. The hopeful plan is to have the materials in the town by Tuesday, allowing the travel team to work closely with the Water Committee to start on the Upper Pump Station and set an example of how to do the Lower Pump Station when EWB is not there and back at Rutgers studying and fundraising!

On the offbeat of work, the travel team was able to enjoy playing basketball with Angel's (host family's father) children in the backyard. Nancy is one of the children and she is very good at basketball. She is a sixth grader. Natalie thought it would be funny to dunk but Nancy totally owned Natalie. Additionally, Monal said that Sheel was scared to play with the children because they were that good.

The travel team may be using the tuuk tomorrow, which is always a fun experience for n00bs.

For dinner, the travel team had pasta with Alfredo sauce, beans, gravy, and eggs. It was quite delicious; Sheel and Natalie still don't believe previous travel team members' (like myself) accusations about the lack of taste in the food. They loved dinner!

The quote of the day happened during the Water Committee Meeting. As the W.C. was introducing themselves by name, in succession were "Jose" and "Jose Mas." So Herbert commented that the next person's name must be "Jose Mas Mas," or "Jose More More."

In closing, the travel team is doing the post implementation work as they go. Monal says "A lot of things are different here than we were actually hoping. We are going to try to get as much work done this week that we can." Madhuri wished them to be safe and Elaine reminded them about contacting the German Embassy for a grant.

The travel team will be calling tomorrow so have your questions and comments ready!! They are really excited for this blog and are very curious for what you may ask! 

-Brian Goodacre

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Brian's 1st Post with a picture

With the travel team leaving this morning for NSCI, they now have limited access to internet for posting. Limited is a stretch since this depends if the Internet Cafe in NSCI has Internet. The plan is for this blog is for them to call me each night, tell me what is going on, what's up, the weather, how's the food, the mission they are trying to accomplish, how Dave is doing with the Tuuk, how cute the babies are, and many other funny but important travel team items. What I need from the readers of this blog are comments and questions! I want to be able to ask them questions from their valuable Guatemala members back home. I know you guys and girls are thinking of them! If you have great comments and questions, you will keep their morale high and then the project will be implemented! Just kidding. It does not happen that quickly. 

Anyways, moving beyond the introductory stuff, Monal was able to upload only this picture to the internet and I got a link. Sadly, her eyes are closed so she does not look the greatest in the picture. Gladly, everyone else is on their game, has their eyes open, and looks great! They surely make up for Monal's sleepiness. For background, this picture was taken in Antigua in the town's beautiful courtyard. I will post another update once I get a phone call from the travel team from NSCI and they will post updates if they can get internet!

Brian G.

Leaving for NSCI soon...

So we were able to sign our "Purchase Order" with the supplier last night. We gave him an initial down-payment!  This is an important first step towards implementation. It will also help build community's trust for the success of the project. We were able to confirm many technical aspects about the electrical design, the surge protection system, the equipment that will be installed, and also the life span of the pumps we have selected. Over all, the travel team feels confident about our pump supplier and the design.

We all had a yummy breakfast this morning, and are now getting ready to leave for NSCI. We have stocked up on bottled water and some snacks and have Guatemalan phones for use. We are very curious to go to the community and find out about the progress made with the excavation work and buying supplies for construction. We hope to be out in the field starting tomorrow to construct the chambers. The students are very excited about this! Dave will be giving us brief lessons about structural design before we actually go out to the site!

We have to go check out soon and then about 3hours car ride to NSCI! Its going to be very pretty! The weather here is just perfect! :)

I don't know when I will be able to post again, hopefully we are able to find time to go to an internet cafe in NSCI. But if not, we will call Brian and he will update you guys! Come back to find out what the situation with chamber construction is! Come back to find out what the political situation in NSCI is! The real fun is about to begin! yay!

See you all later. Adios :)


P.S. We are trying to upload pictures but the internet seems to be really slow to allow us to do that. We will keep trying

Natalie's Take on Day One

Today was a pretty good day.

No really. Besides rushing to get to the airport on time, being forced to check in a bag and forgetting to use the bathroom before boarding, the day from start to finish was pretty fantastic.

The flight was interesting: we met a group from Rutgers Camden traveling to Guatemala to work on a service project for a class, building stoves. They, and many others, noticed and commented on our hard hats. Some guy told Sheel that he goes on vacation to avoid hard hats and yet we were bringing our hard hats on our vacation.

Quote of the day:
"Watch out for your hard hats, people's heads are softer." -- Continental Flight Attendant

(Scary...someone just broke a glass bottle outside. Herby was frightened.)

Monal says its time to sleep. Stay tuned for more details about the pump supplier meeting, Antigua weather, attractions and more...

<3 Nat ( & Sheeeeel)
P.S: Hi Mom

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I am in Detroit Metro Airport waiting for my flight to Newark Airport and when Guatemala!
We will accomplish many things during this trip and you can be part of this, by clicking on the "Follow" tab.

We will keep you updated!!

Herbert Silva

Friday, March 11, 2011

9 Hours Till Departure

Hey, it’s my first blog post. Awesome. Do you know what else is awesome? There are only 9 hours until we depart from  Newark Liberty International Airport to Guatemala City. Everyone traveling is really excited, and if you know me, I can’t wait for the amazing food. They have this dish called the Tamale, which is corn or flour masa filled with anything imaginable wrapped in Plantain leaves. Here is a picture:
Anyway, back to the business.  Here are our goals for the week.

Goals For The Week
  • Water Committee – We have to ensure that everyone is on the same page confirm that chamber work will be complete after we leave. 
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)-The Memorandum of Understanding, or official document regarding the project, must become finalized and resolved for all parties including the section regarding  thethe water meter issue. Also, we must confirm contributions from the new municipality and water committee.
  • Pipeline- We have to know how much pipeline needs to be repaired or replaced , who is going to be responsible for those jobs- the Municipality or Water Committee, and when the repairs will take place. If possible, we hope to take a pipeline walk and measure GPS points 
  • Chamber- Chambers must be constructed as much as possible and compared with our drawings. 
  • Plan about who will be the main contact person from the Water Committee and the Municipality
  • Get 90% of the Post Implementation report done!

These are all of the things that we hope to accomplish with this implementation trip, but we are especially going to need your help and feedback. We will be updating and checking this blog as much as possible, so post any questions you have or suggestions about what is going on or even a funny joke.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pre-Travel Madness!

T-minus three days until Guatemala. 

We are all really excited to go! More to come