Posted by: iainjhunt | March 12, 2011

El Guabo Update: Obra de Toma de Villanova

Last week a group of some 25 Villanova University students, professors, and alumni took a Magic School Bus ride of their own, making the 7 hour trek from Managua to Waslala to spend their spring break working with the parish’s health and water ministries (that’s us!). Instead of easing into things, we decided to push our new compañeros ankle-deep in mud and concrete on day one, and if we pushed anybody out of their comfort zone they didn’t let it show (too much).

Bringing things full circle, we spent two days in the community of El Guabo constructing the intake works, where just a year ago a group of Villanova students (including some who were on this trip) first visited the water source and performed the initial feasibility study. The intake works, or obra de toma in Spanish, is the heart of the water system, where water from the source enters the pipeline. Since no two sources are alike, the design and construction of the obra de toma is the most involved part of the system.

During the visit I learned that Villanova professors Jim O’Brien and Betty Keech have visited Waslala each of the last 7 years, and was able to witness firsthand the friendships they’ve developed here over this time. Even more than obras de toma, the sustained relationship between the Villanova and Waslala communities is building solidarity.

As we draw closer to Water for Waslala’s big annual fundraiser, the Walk for Water, expect to see some student perspectives on the trip here on the WfW job. In the meantime, though check out below our photos of the week for a taste of how the construction process went…

001 The source (before)

002 Hot potato! Passing rocks to build and to fill the intake works structure.

003 Nidia and Ron thought they were just translators, but somehow they also ended up being the master mixers of concrete.

004 How many engineers does it take to thread a pipe (and break a pipe threader)?

005 El Guabo’s Juan Laguna and our maestro de construcción Denis Taleno prepare the intake works plumbing.

006 Plumbing installed.

007 Taleno and yours truly, looking like we’re thinking really hard about what we’re gonna do next.

008 Since we don’t yet have an “after” picture, this will have to do (a real “after” picture will come after we have a metal door manufactured and can completely finish the job).

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