Our partner village of Than Taung is a picturesque village located in a lush valley literally, at the end of the road. A long, winding, narrow dirt road connects this tiny village to the closest town, an hour away by car or motorbike. A small boy rides on the back of a water buffalo down a dusty dirt path through town. A group of young kids kick a soccer ball around a field that is complete with bamboo goal posts. Our partnership with Than Taung is generously sponsored for six years by the 2Cobs Foundation.
In May, we visited the village of Than Taung to catch up with the Village Aid Project (VAP) team who had been volunteering there for two weeks. VAP is a student organization at Fort Lewis College that partners with communities in the developing world to find sustainable solutions to critical engineering problems. The VAP team worked alongside the villagers to install a water system. This is the sixth water system VAP has installed in our partner villages.
The all-volunteer team, VAP , included nine students, three community partners, and was led by the intrepid Dr. Laurie Williams, a Professor of Engineering. Together VAP and the villagers dug trenches, layed pipe, and provided the masonry needed to build water taps.
Now, fresh water flows from a mountain spring source to a holding reservoir within the village. Water taps are spread throughout the village, with approximately seven families using each tap. Water flows at about 2 gallons per minute. For comparison, our taps in the US flow at about 4 gallons per minute.
Before the water system was installed, women would travel three to four times daily to a single reservoir on top of a hill. These daily treks on a narrow path carrying heavy loads of water are both exhausting and time-consuming. The taps throughout the village will eliminate this burden. Another benefit is that overall village health will be improved. Combined with a household water container distribution; the transmission, distribution, and storage of household water will be parasite and e-coli free.
On May 21st, the water began to flow and the residents of the village met the clean water with a grand celebration. The students had a wonderful experience. VAP says they have never participated with a village so well led, organized and committed to the task. We left the village knowing that through our partnership, with the village and VAP, we had brought clean water to 61 households. Readily available and clean water, a simple luxury to many of us, and now one of the many benefits through our partnership with Than Taung.
*Photo credit: Roland Constable.
*VAP volunteer in photo:James Wadle, FLC engineering student, senior.