Posted by: waterforwaslala | March 31, 2011

Villanova Student Leader on Coming Home to Waslala

By Chelsea Mackie, VU ’12

This was my second trip to Waslala, and I was so excited to be back!

What really surprised me this time was how much more connected I felt to the place. When we first arrived, it was strange to see all the Waslala communities I had been exactly one year ago, and to see whether or not they had changed. We even worked on a site, El Guabo, which I helped assess on last year’s trip. After I left, life in Waslala continued on as usual, of course. Villanova group, Spring 2011 There I was back at school, thousands of miles away, and that was something that was hard for me to wrap my brain around. I came to love it in Waslala even more throughout my trip back just weeks ago.

Something I noticed a lot more this time around were the people. One of our projects involved visiting a lot of homes to install new valves in a community. This was a lot of fun because we met a lot of people benefitting from the water system, and everyone was extremely welcoming. Meals were one of the common themes of the week, as we were offered food and drinks wherever we went. This really made me feel at home, and that the people of Waslala were happy to have us visit. It was interesting to be able to see a little glimpse of their lives like the man we saw building a new oven, or a girl playing with a hula hoop in her backyard, or just a bunch of kids playing on a makeshift seesaw at the school. The people of Waslala are not very different from us at all. In fact, I couldn’t help but wonder at how similar we all are.

We spent a lot of time with the Pastoral del Agua’s community outreach director, Virginia, and her daughter Joanna, which meant lots of laughing. It’s amazing how easily humor can be communicated with a few simple words and gestures, and how we seemed to find the same things funny. Chelsea and VirginiaOur group spent a lot of time singing songs we learned in Spanish class to learn basic Spanish phrases, which I think Joanna especially found very amusing.

I really felt more connected to the people of Waslala this time around which made my trip even better. Our last day there, when we were leaving the community of Yaro, our group became a little quiet in the back of the truck when the sun started to go down. It was a long day, so everyone was probably very tired, but I think like me they were just trying to take it all in.

I took a moment then to appreciate how blessed I was to be able to visit such a beautiful place twice, and I promised myself I would come back again. I’m hoping it’s sooner rather than later. Waslala is an amazing place with some of the greatest people I’ve ever met.

Chelsea Mackie is a mechanical engineering major at Villanova University, and anticipates graduating in May 2012.  Chelsea is one of WfW’s (all-star) Villanova student leaders, and has been instrumental in planning the 2010 and 2011 Walks for Water.



  1. That’s my girl! Making a difference in the world.

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