[fsf60k] NA water update

  • From: Peter White <pedro831@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: fsf60k@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2009 14:36:10 -0400

***This is a message from a member of Friends of Students for 60,000***

Hola to All. Mike Cipoletti, Lisa Flanagan and I just returned from
Nicaragua. Mike was there for a week and a half with a group of alumni from
SUNY Binghamton, mostly club alumni. Also there were two from Miami Dade
Univ. who went to Nica in May and returned for more involvement. There were
also two young women from Brooklyn, NYC teachers. One has some grant money
for a school project and ran into Mike. Lisa and I were there to have
meetings with the people on a variety of topics including the NA water
situation, the Comedor Escolar situation, the purchase of 7 manzanas for the
Field of Dreams project, to have a general meeting with the people of NA to
get more motivated to participate, and to meet with Conchita about how to
improve the manner in which we select families for new houses, how much to
charge each family for the house (the cost about $1800 or so a piece and we
have been charging $0. We all agree that the recipient families should pay a
portion, which now seems like 25% or so over a four or five year period, or
about $10 per month.), and other matters related to housing, the SG housing
grant, houses the club may build in the future, Shari's JMU group's houses,
houses built by the college groups Mike brings, etc.

Most of our meetings were either all successful, or at least partly
successful. We met with CE Commission on Sunday July 26. At the meeting a
number of things were discussed to try to clear the air on some old
troublesome topics and to move forward. Mike is now replacing me as the
Comedor Escolar Coordinator General and will attend CE meetings when he's in
Nica and have a vote. He will also (hopefully) become official (i.e. have
his name on the letterhead just like Liz, Monica and the five CE members),
not just be a figure head coordinator. He can also provide us up north here
with updates, facts, bank info, needs, etc. This is a change as I've been CE
CG for the past 13 years but my role was mostly to keep kids in the club
aware and interested, and to keep funds coming. Students for 60000 has been
about 80% of the CE project's funding all along, so having someone who works
with the club, Friends and various alumni college groups like Mike should be
a good thing. Also, on the weeks when Mike is not in Nica, the commission
agreed that Conchita will be able to attend the commission's weekly meetings
and report back to Mike or us on what's what. We also discussed a number of
miscommunication matters and most were  resolved. We all agreed to move
forward. I'm happy that the CE is still in existence, that the five
commission members (Flor, Rigoberto, Guillermo, Oscar and Acencion) are all
still involved, interested in kid's nutrition, working hard. With the
addition of Mike to the commission I believe things can only get better.
Monica was not present. How she reacts to this change will be up to her
according to the Commision. If she chooses to attend with Mike present in
this new role, then great. If not, then Mike will have his first problem to
deal with. The commission members  like the result of what we discussed at
the meeting. I will become less of an official person with the project, but
Flor did say I was still part of things, like "CG Emeritas" or something
like that. I do intend to speak with Friends about seeking grant money for
Chac. nutrition projects in the future and will work through the new CG Mike
if successful. I believe the CE project is not only very important, but that
it is historic. It is/ought to be a national model, based on the Booker T.
Washington Tuskeegee model, of how a group of students from the U.S. can
help work with poor children and adults to improve the nutrition of
thousands of children in a sustainable way. It has had its ups and downs
over the year, but the success of the project is quite amazing. There are 14
comedores all built by money from the club, 50-60 cows, mostly purchased by
the students, 73.5 mzs. of land (about 125 acres), all purchased by the
students,  a tractor and other equipment and things,from a grant I wrote in
the late 90's, and 1850 kids eat one meal each day. About 30% of this eating
comes from the proceeds of the animals, the tractor, and the land, and the
other 70% from govt. hand outs, charitable donations, etc. A goal is to have
it become 50% or 80% sustainable in the future. I feel better that Mike's
involved, he's got business acumen, energy, vision, and is tireless. Right
now he's got the con, buena suerte Mike.

As for the NA general meeting on Friday July 24, it was a good meeting with
many NA residents in attendance and not too many of the small playful or
crying children which also tend to be distractions or shorten meetings.
While some of us wanted to say to the people "You all have to do more in the
way of participation/involvement with the community or we're done here," we
also recognized their plight, the lack of employment, the struggle for
water, the many problems they face, etc., so we tried to speak to both
issues: encouragement for them to get more involved, and how we'd keep
working hard to bring a solution to the water problem. In addition to Lisa,
Mike, me and some of the SUNY Bing. students, Douglas' partner Yader (not
Yader Salgado, but a solar water installer from Managua) was with us also.
We picked him up in  Managua on Thurs. night and he stayed in Chac. and
accompanied us to NA to look at the existing well, see the land/houses, and
look at El Cortizal (1500 meters east of downtown NA, visible from the curvy
road into NA) where we hoped to consider a new water source since the
existing well in NA is back to having arsenic problems (40ppb when the
standard is now 10ppb). Yader was very bright and experienced it seems. He
spoke to the assembly of people and got their attention about getting more
involved in the community, participating, etc. Overall this meeting was good
and people agreed that more had to get involved. Still, I went to the
biointensive garden area where Gonzalo showed Yader and me the garden. He
said only two families are involved, his and another. Mike says more are
involved, but either way out of 59 families, there is a huge lack of
involvement for a project that has already received $5000 students dollars.
But there's new hope from this meeting I hope. Also when we first purchased
the NA land in spring of 2002, we plotted for each family to receive 1/2 a
manzana, or about .85 acres. Near the Biointensive garden one family has the
entire .85 planted with healthy looking corn. It is the rainy season and
things are all green. But sadly most of the  59 family's plots are green
with weeds as nothing is planted. About 20% of the families have some
planting, and 80% are weeds with nothing planted. COnchita did say that some
families, like many of the farmers in Chac., fear that the rains of
May-August are too insufficient, and  that from Aug.-Nov., when rains are
more predictable, there may be more planting done by more families. I hope

After the meeting Lisa, Yader and I, along with two club alumni went to El
Cortizal to see the well in question, the one that we'd been hearing about
that had plentiful, cooler water that was available for purchase. This well
is one we've known and used for years now. It is the hand cranked "bomba de
mescate" that the people have used since NA began in 2002 whenever the La
Union water was shut off, or without electricity and the NA people had no
water. The  20 families/83 people of barrio El Cortizal have always let the
NA people take water in such an emergency. But while we were there about
five of them came over and we spoke about the possibility of purchasing a
small plot there which one landowner was willing to sell, and digging a
well, and then sending the water over to NA about a mile away. They had
mixed reaction to this idea. Then a few more showed up, and then more until
about 25 were present, or about 1/3 of the community. About 1/4 seemed ok
with the idea, and the other 3/4 were very opposed. The conversation got
loud and it appeared obvious that if a land purchase/well digging/water
taking project were to begin, there'd be big problems, maybe even serious
ones. The opponents to our idea of this water project were very vocal about
saying no one was taking their water. Right now they don't use the hand
crank bomba de mescate. Since it is rainy season they take run off from the
nearby mountains which they pipe in from the base of the mts. They only use
the hand crank pump when there is no mountain water coming in to them. It is
their back up water source. They figure that if we took water for 59
additional families of NA their water source would be depleted, which it
arguably would be depending on how much water is down there. I suggested
that if we discovered there was plenty of water and we put in a new solar
water system we could perhaps cut them in on the water, meaning that the 59
households from NA and the 20 from El Cortizal would all take from the new
well. The majority didn't want to hear about anyone taking their back up
water. We left before things escalated any further and most agreed that this
was now a closed idea. Conchita however thinks that some more will be
flexible and this idea is still a possibility in the future after a cooling
off period. We'll see. But in my mind there will be risk with this approach
because we don't know how much water is there, (we did find out that the
well was dug by a charity group in 2003) and we don't know about how good
the water is either (i.e. arsenic or other problems) so its a risk to dig
there. Also the opponents, and there are plenty of them, could be big
trouble and there could be major community bad feelings if we buy/dig and
the opponents get mad. We spokeon the way home of the Hatfields and the
McCoys. One more thing, the water coming out of the bomba was hot in my
opinion. Mike said he tested it and it was 80 degrees. I have gone swimming
in Gulf of Mexico water in FL which was 85 degrees. This water was hot to
the touch, about as hot as I remember the NA water to be. I'd say it was
well over 100 which presents another problem. However, I think this is all
moot as right now there's no way to go forward there and the people are
without their own water source. On the temporary bright side of the water
situation, at the NA general meeting two members of Vision Mundial, a church
group that does water and other projects, were present. They are providing
truck loads of water on a regular basis for the near future, maybe a few
months. So the people aren't waterless at this time, but this won't last

I'm not a water expert or tech person like George or Bill, but based on what
I saw/learned I'd say that the best option now, since the people of NA own
the land where the current well is, and since it has plenty of water, that
we consider the best way to go solar and to reduce the arsenic level and
then problem solved. For what its worth, the well was dug in   2006 and the
first tests showed a level of 43ppb arsenic to water. This test was done by
Monica and martin in a manner which  Puritec said was improper. All they did
was lower a rope down with a bucket/jar and scooped out some water and had
it tested. We learned that the well had to be purged for a few hours and
then that water tested. We paid $900 to Puritec for a test and they purged
for half an hour and due to the heat of the water the portable pump they
brought kept shutting down. This half hour purge showed a level of 25 or so
ppb, much less that the 43 ppb from the incorrectly tested water. Then when
we were more or less forced to go forward with the current failed diesel
system Glen and Monica spent $2000 to have a test done which involved a
purge of 24 hours. This was done and it only lowered the water table a few
inches showing that there is plenty of water there. This test showed only
12ppb. Now MINSA says there are 40ppb. I am not really confident that that
is true as I doubt they tested with a recommended 24 hour purging of the
well. Either way, we know from Dr. Meng's research that water in Bangaladesh
that has 2000ppb can be cleaned. So it must be much easier to clean water
that has between 12 and 40ppb. I think we should be thinking in the
direction of cleaning the present/plentiful NA water and going forward with
what we've got. Also Mike says that his friend Clelia has contacts that know
of this topic, so good luck Clelia. (can Mike, Bill, George, Dick, etc whove
been emailing back and forth about water also cc the Friends freelist folks
so they're in the loop on what's happening).

We also met with Mario REal in Leon on Sunday July 26 and gave him a check
from STudents for the purchase of the 7 manzanas in front of and to the east
of the Alberto Berrias school. Previously we met with the Nicaraguan not for
profit group Asociacion San Isidro which Conchita is a board member of. They
agreed to "own" the land so none of us has to, or Friends doesn't have to,
or the comite doesn't have to, and that they'd use it for the purposes we
outlined which are: baseball field, park, gardens, comedor, classroom
additions, etc. in the future. This is the Field of Dreams project and
nothing can happen until we get the land purchased. There is alot I could
say here, but I'm tired of writing and you're probably tired of reading if
you've read this far. Suffice it to say that all the paperwork for the
preparation of the deed is not completed, but it ought to be soon, so when
Conchita and her attorney are satisfied with the papers, title search, etc,
then mario will get his check and the club will have bought a beautiful
parcel of prime flat land for wonderful future community use. Very nice

Reminder that the first Thursday in August is coming, August 6, and we'll be
having our regular monthly meeting. Also, On WEd. Aug. 5 I'm giving a talk
at Eddie Bergman's Miracle Corners of the World two week long youth retreat
where 45 teens and 35 adults have been retreating/doing wonderful things for
the past two weeks. It's in the City, at NYU. Shari has agreed to help me
with this hour long presentation. Also one of the NYC teachers we met this
week in Nica will be home by then and wants to attend. I think some students
from SF60k may want to attend too. Eddie's terrific (Npt. HS/SF60000 class
of 1999) and so is his group.

Be well. PW

You can unsubscribe from this list by sending an email to 
fsf60k-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the subject field.
An archive of messages is available at http://www.freelists.org/archives/fsf60k.
FAQ'are available at http://www.freelists.org/help/faq.html***

Other related posts: