Posted by: meaghaninwaslala | October 2, 2009

Greetings from Waslala

By: Meaghan Gruber

Welcome to our new office as the Immaculate Parish – Waslala´s Water Ministry (La Pastoral del Agua de la Parroquia La Inmaculada – Waslala), funded through Water for Waslala.  Virginia and I  are very excited to be helping to implement sustainable water projects here in Waslala.  We wanted to give you all a little glimpse of faces and places here would be a great way to start of this blog and for you all to get a bit of a taste of our work here in Waslala and the surrounding communities.

The beautiful mountains of Waslala

The beautiful mountains of Waslala

My name is Meaghan Gruber and I have been working with the parish on this project for most of this year.  I am originally from Massachusetts and graduated with a major in International Studies with a focus on Latin America in 2007 from Dickinson College. Through many loops of fate, I  arrived in Waslala for the fourth time this past Christmas 2008 and decided to stay permanently.  I was hired as the project manager of the Water Ministry with the goal of organizing our work and improving communication with all of our friends and supporters in North America.

Although Water for Waslala has been working in partnership with the local parish for over five years now, I am proud to be one of two people on staff to help with the day to day activities in Waslala. My role as project manager is to help organize the communities and create a structure for selecting who will receive a system as well as ensure success and the impact of all of our water systems.

meaghan in san benito - blog #1

In the first part of 2009 we completed two water systems – one in San Benito and one in Las Nubes. Here is a picture of me leaving on horseback from San Benito

We spend a lot of time visiting the communities during the construction process to ensure that our systems are being built to design, and we visit past communities to check in and ensure sustainability of the project.  Additionally we conduct ongoing surveys of the people to better understand the health and life realities here and to create a baseline for future. Our responsibilities also include overseeing the health, hygiene, and environmental educational programs in the parish as well as keeping an open line of communication with the WfW board and community in the U.S. In collaboration with the WfW board and the parish we have created a strategic plan for future including the discussion of maintenance funds in communities. Our goal is to help paint a picture of the work we’re doing in Waslala, so that all of you that are supporters of WFW and interested in our project can feel a part of our work here…. because, in the end, we couldn’t do any of this work without your support.

In August we hired on a long-time Parish employee, Virginia Leiba.  She is a wonderful woman in her 40s who has lived in Waslala her whole life and is well known in all of the 86 communities that respond to Waslala.  She is our Project Facilitator whose responsibilities and skills are heavily focused on organization of communities to ensure that community funds are collected and communities are organized to work on constructing their system.

Virginia busy at work

Virginia busy at work

She will also be starting health and hygiene workshops in the communities and in Waslala within the next year to ensure that our water projects are accompanied by education on water treatment and environmental protection.  We are thinking creatively how to best use her skills to best advance our project. Virginia and I feel passionate about the work we do here and are determined to ensure that we are well organized and doing important work with great sensitivity to the people and culture here in Waslala.  It has been a wonderful experience so far as she knows many people in the communities and has great ideas on how we can creatively move the project forward though workshops, through radio blurbs, etc. …. We´ll be sure to update you as time continues!

We work as a separate ministry at the parish but are supported by the two priests from the Dioses of Chapecó in Brazil, Father Danilo and Father Anelio who minister to the communities here and are deeply involved in all the ministries, which include health, education, youth, and street children.  In addition, we are also supported by the parish administrator Junior from Brazil who WfW has worked closely with for over five years.

And here is our office!   This is where Virginia and I meet on the days that we are not out in the field to review community visits and write up reports, plan for the future on our large blue calendar you see posted on the wall, and check into our email.

Parish office

Parish office

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