By Ken Barratt, Outreach Director
QBL technician Sandra Laura has to be at the terminal before five in the morning to catch a bus out to Vilaque, one of our villages in the Pacajes region. She has a four hour journey ahead of her, much of it over dirt roads where the bus has to ford at least two rivers. In the rainy season the rivers can be swollen and the roads clogged with mud. She will not get back to her husband that night as there won’t be a bus home until the next day. She will sleep with one of the families there in their mud brick, straw roofed house. At just on 13,000 feet above sea level there is no heating.
Sandra made several of these visits to Vilaque where she worked with the people to plan their drinking water system. She will have to go out there several more times to check on the progress of the project and address any glitches which may occur. QBL development projects are for the long term.
In June this year eleven of us from California, Wyoming and Colorado spent two weeks in Bolivia visiting some of our QBL projects. We made the journey out to Vilaque for the inauguration ceremony of their water supply. We felt the bumpy roads. We experienced the isolation of the community.
All 38 families have clean safe drinking water piped to their houses. The tiny village school now also has running water. The ceremony included speeches, food, music and dancing – hard work for us gringos at 13,000 feet. One of the village leaders told us all that Sandra was now their “hermana” – their sister. She was part of their community family. There was clearly much respect and love for her. They were grateful for the QBL funding and support, but what meant most to them was the dedication of Sandra Laura. It was clear to us that she was proud of what she and the community had achieved together. The hugs, the smiles, the shared laughter. As one of our group commented to me, “Sandra loves her work doesn’t she?”
We have a team of three technicians at the QBL La Paz office. Lourdes Tantani heads up the team. Eloy Quiquisana is our hydraulics expert who plans the technical side of constructing irrigation and drinking water systems. Every time you donate to QBL part of your gift finances our La Paz team. Without their dedication and expertise the projects would not happen. Without the people in the communities spending weeks digging ditches for the pipes and mixing cement the project would not happen. Without the generosity of our supporters the projects would not happen. QBL is truly a partnership of links in a chain.