Thursday, January 21, 2016

Finishing the week in NSCI

Dave, Austin, and Ericka drew the short sticks for the Head Tank test the following morning, and met Manuel, the fontanero, up at the tank at 5:30 AM. In a similar fashion to the previous day, Neha, Sandy, and Sam headed up to the tank at around 8 AM to relieve the first team and let them eat some breakfast. While at the tank, Sandy and Dave used Ericka to pick Manual's brains and try to map out where he thought each valve provided water. Before this trip, the team was under the impression that there was one valve per neighborhood in the community, but it was soon discovered that the distribution system piping was much more complicated. The Water Committee is still working to try to give us a map that shows where water flows from each valve at a per house level. This will really impact our analysis of the system.

Picking the brains of Manuel to figure out where each valve is serving.

At around 2 PM that day, the team had a summary of findings meeting with the Water Committee. The team addressed the expectations that the Water Committee provided at the beginning of the week. The Water Committee seemed amazed at the cost of galvanized iron, and also mentioned that in order to install water meters at every house in the community, a popular vote of 80% favor would have to be reached in the general public. Overall, the Water Committee was thankful for the information provided, and EWB-USA Rutgers Guatemala Team left with the promise of a follow-up letter with recommendations. 

Travel Team's final meeting with the Water Committee.

After the meeting, the team went around to the different installed water meters with the Water Committee to label each with a number and ensure the committee could read the meter. This is essential as the Water Committee will be providing the Rutgers team with meter readings every week via email.

Later that day on Thursday, the team got a treat and was able to play some games with host family member Lucas, his friends, the Peace Corps volunteer staying with the same host family, and his sister.

Martin, Sam, and Neha playing marbles with Lucas and his friend Ricky.

Friday was a treat for the team as no one had to wake up before sunrise to head up to the Head Tank. Instead, all that was scheduled for the day was to pick up surveys and take water meter readings. I decided to jump on the opportunity of living with a Peace Corps volunteer who worked at the Health Clinic to see what local health looked like in NSCI. The Health Clinic was small, but clean. Paul, the Peace Corps volunteer, introduced me to the different staff at the clinic and told me about how the sinks in the clinic were brand new, as it previously did not have water access. Paul pointed out the clear lack of supplies in the clinic. He said two years ago, the clinic had managed to achieve 80% of vaccinations for children in the community. Unfortunately, the previous year, only 40% of the children were vaccinated because of the ex-director of the clinic pocketing the money for supplies. He said the nurses often go on strike from not being paid, and that although healthcare should be free, there is no medicine to give out to those who need it, so families often have to go to pharmacies to try to purchase the medicine which is costly.

The "emergency rooom" of the clinic had only one bed and one stretcher. The clinic had two other beds in total, both reserved for childbirth. Unfortunately 1 in 1000 women in the community die during childbirth.

After water meter readings, packing, and cleaning the house as a thank you to Martina, our host family mother, the team headed to Lake Atitlan for the weekend, where the rest of the trip was spent.

~Neha


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