sxshentai"

Blog

Guatemala Takeaways

Guatemala Takeaways

January 25, 2016

Authored by Erin Cummings, a water engineer in CH2M’s Chicago office, dedicated Engineers Without Borders volunteer, and the hydrogeologist volunteer on the CH2M Foundation EWB Engineering Service Corps project in Guatemala. Authored January 17.

The team with the Mayor of Joyabaj.

The team with the Mayor of Joyabaj.

This Engineers Without Borders Engineering Service Corps project attracted people with a variety of interests. Some came to lend a specialized skill set, while others followed a passion for development work. Not only did the team members have different reasons for pursuing the project, but we were also from all over the world and from different professional backgrounds. So Spanish wasn’t the only language barrier! While the water folks worked to understand the electrical speak, the Americans learned the technical lingo of the Brits, and all were susceptible the South African wit! Nonetheless, the team truly complimented each other and came together from the beginning. As I sit here on the last day of the trip, I’m sad that it’s coming to an end. From brainstorming to data collecting to number crunching – fiestas to fireworks to the flu – I’m going to miss learning from and hanging around with this talented crew!

My water quality testing associate and future engineer of Nueva Providencia.

My water quality testing associate and future engineer of Nueva Providencia.

Una foto más

Una foto más

Filling the hydrologist role, I was tasked with estimating river flow in Joyabaj throughout the year and flow capacity of the conveyance system feeding the turbine. I was excited to learn more about how all the pieces of a hydrodam puzzle work together. Instead, I learned that electrical engineers are full of funny terminology and have a knack for card tricks (just kidding – thanks to Eric for the crash course!). I also had the opportunity to help access the water supply system in Nueva Providencia and to test water quality at households in Nueva Providencia, assisted by some of the smaller members of the community.

For me, the biggest takeaway was experiencing the impact basic infrastructure can have on a community. Less than 10 years ago, Nueva Providencia – a village we visited of about 250 people – had no running water or electricity. Depending on the season, they were quarantined by a river too dangerous to cross. Through the hard work of the community and their NGO partners (Water For People, Engineers Without Borders, Bridges to Prosperity, and the local Catholic mission), drinking water was distributed to households from a spring and electricity was generated using hydropower. A pedestrian bridge was built, enabling teachers to reach their students on a daily basis and men to become reliable employees at nearby coffee farms. The community is now growing fast – both in population and standard of living. So fast, in fact, the community’s success has resulted in their current challenge: keeping up with rapidly increasing infrastructure demands.

Intake screen created from an old plastic bottle, demonstrating the ingenuity of the local community.

Intake screen created from an old plastic bottle, demonstrating the ingenuity of the local community.

The community expressed their gratitude by throwing an overwhelmingly generous fiesta, complete with homemade food, libations, music, speeches, and fireworks. It’s truly humbling to see how hard people work and how grateful people are for infrastructure that many of us take for granted every day.

Go back to blog list

Share this article

nav_3 nav_1 nav_2 nav_4
2-41
January 2016

Comments

  1. Jeanne Pangallo


    Great job! Love all the great works you do to help others live a better life!
    Reply

Leave a comment

Subscribe

RSS
contact us