It was so sad to see everyone leave a couple at a time but I suppose the highlight was when Dawn (my sister) and Beau managed to visit after o many years of hearing me talk about it.
While I was busily reporting to the donors, Siphan headed to a small village near the Plain of Jars, Ban Napia with or Italian friends to assist in the distribution of 62 water filters there. As I understand, it went without incident although there was some heavy drinking afterwards with the villagers there.
So next up was to make another attempt at Thong Thuen. The water filters were supposed to be there already but the rains had prevented the deliveries so they were stored at his mom’s house. While our guests were here, Siphan had rushed down to Phonsavanh (Nambak District) while we were visiting Meung Ngoi, to relocate these filters yet again to his dormitory complex, for fear of theft. The previous night his dad woke and found that the cover for the filters had been removed. It was likely the thieves were interrupted before anything could be taken. So now it was time to move the filters again to the final destination…with five truckloads, this was accomplished.
Hmmmm….I am wondering how to describe the road condition. The main road was fine but about 20 minutes later, we turned off. It looked like we were heading into a driveway full of huge potholes..gong about 3km per hour. Most of you would not be able to imagine just how poor the road was. Lots of muck in places, reasonably dry in others, steep inclines but the huge craters, potholes slowed us to a snails pace for abot 1 1/2 hours…but as the cloud deck rose, so did we. Yes it was a bitch to get there but it was undoubtedly worth it.
I wish I cold have taken pictures of the actual road but it was so bumpy I am sure any attempt at aiming would have directed the camera to a tree of something. We were on a constant incline too…so no stopping. What a difference a year makes. Last year we could have gone most of the way by minivan.
Upon our arrival, the three of us got straight to work, preparing the water filters for distribution, then went straight into training after a few announcements from the District Governor. The village was so appreciative and obeyed our one order…to smile for the camera…perhaps the most fun loving bunch we have seen for a long time. The last two filters were reserved for the bamboo school and for the teacher who was off somewhere during his day off….not impressed. I had one of the villagers promise to go through the basic training once the teacher returned.
Following this there was the usual baci celebration and ceremony…it was CRAZY! There is no way anyone could take pictures during the string frenzy. Siphan and I have been to a lot of baci ceremonies before but NOTHING like this. It was like we were in the middle of a mob and couldn’t even see daylight! LOL It was fun though and even better because we were all sitting outside on chairs!
Before we left however, we were updated on the progress of the huge water project. This project involves the construction of a dam, 9km of pipe, a large tank and taps throughout the village spread over three hilltops…for 146 families. We are building the tank to be large enough to run a pipe next year to a village further downhill into another smaller tank (to be constructed next year also) to fulfill the dreams of a Hmong village). Here are some pictures;
It is hard to explain just how excited the villagers were to have water, for the first time ever in their village. That was an exciting day and lots of celebration afterwards. We received about a half dozen calls from the village to tell us just how happy they were.
The project should be complete in just a few weeks. We are hoping to add an additional three taps but will see if the funding comes through. Stay tuned…