More Clean Water

 

This is a story of our Clean Water Mission Team and Regional Transformative Missions.

This is published in The First Edition, October 2015 issue.

 

The First United Methodist Church of Georgetown Clean Water Mission Team was successful in introducing water collection/filtration systems to the residents of Gobernadora Island, off the coast of Panama. The team was on the island August 26-27 and installed water collection/filtration systems on the homes of island representative Rafeal Tavernas and his nephew.

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After the installation, the families were instructed in how to operate and maintain the system. Part of this project, Maestro Damaso Rodriquez was instructed in how to install future water collection systems should this program be successful.

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Gobernadora Island consists of 85 homes with no electricity or clean drinking water.  The island’s well had become contaminated and unsuitable for drinking, making surface water coming from the mountains the only consumable water. While drinkable, this water still results in illnesses, especially for the young children. 

Rain water collection was a source selected by the Clean Water Mission Team and Dave and Cindy Ceballos, Panama missionaries supported by First United Methodist Church. This water will be collected from each home and filtered at the point of use for drinking and food preparation. Gobernadora Island is tropical and has abundant rainfall during the nine-month wet season each year. During the remaining months, the island will continue to use surface water which can be filtered.

A measurable improvement in the health of the children drinking the filtered water will determine the success of the two newly installed systems. A health condition database will be established and the condition of the two children living in the houses will be monitored for a six month period. Additional data will also be obtained from local or state sources to support this effort.

If results show a sufficient improvement, Phase Two of this project will be enacted. This phase will include the expansion of the system to include 10 additional houses out of 15 identified by Mr. Tavernas. Larry Baird will return to the island in April 2016 to review the health data collected, survey and select the additional houses, provide specific information regarding the location of cistern platforms, and bring the 10 assembled filter systems. Mr. Rodriquez will be contracted to install all of the gutters, platforms, and tanks on each house at a cost of $100 per house.  This will include Mr. Rodriquez’s labor and transportation to and from the island, since he is not an islander.

Each homeowner will be required to provide all materials for the platform and work alongside Mr. Rodriquez as his assistant during the installation in order to provide the commitment of sweat equity to his home. The homeowner will also be required to house Mr. Rodriquez during his stay. The team felt this was a reasonable approach to assist in providing clean drinking water, while incorporating its investments in time and material to support individual water collection/filtration systems. An island coordinator will also be selected and trained to install the water filters and assist fellow islanders in the maintenance and operation of their filters.

During the visit, Mr. Rodriquez also attempted to repair one of the two surface water distribution tanks which was damaged. This was not possible as the tank was damaged beyond repair. As a result, during his next visit, Mr. Baird will determine the size and cost of a replacement tank which will be purchased and installed by Mr. Rodriquez and the islanders. 

Larry’s team consisted of Jerry Baird, John Carnes, Bob Kostkas, Don Paull, and Terry Reed. As disciples of Christ, the team has taken the first step towards improving the lives of our new neighbors living on Gobernadora Island.

To learn more about this team or to join them, please contact Larry Baird.

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