By Ken Barratt, Outreach Director
It’s a special and memorable privilege to attend the inauguration of a QBL project. Our group of eleven American QBL supporters experienced something not one tourist in five thousand will take part in. We were welcomed to Vilaque with hugs, handshakes, smiles and shared laughter. The village band played their pan pipes and wooden flutes. They had slaughtered a llama for the occasion so that on this special day we could all have meat with our potatoes.
After the ceremony we visited one of the families. Before they had a QBL water supply pumped to their house Casiano and Abigail Perez told us they had to walk forty minutes over a hill to a spring for their water. Water for drinking, cooking and washing.
Every bucket of water had to be carried over the hill forty minutes from their house – every drop for drinking, cooking, and washing. This is a 365 day a year job. Over the hill. Dip the bucket in the stream. Back up over the hill with another heavy bucket, trying not to spill too much. If their animals were thirsty, they waited until the next trip to the watering hole, whenever that might be.
Then two months ago the QBL Vilaque system was finished. The three miles of trenches for the pipes dug. The concrete storage tanks and the standpipes outside all 38 houses finished. Casiano turned on the tap outside his house and the water flowed. Can any of us really put ourselves in their place and imagine the excitement of that moment? There are now 40 Andean villages with QBL water supplies. That means more than 1500 families like Casiano and Abigail Perez who have water either piped to their house, or a well and hand pump right outside the house.
We give every family a two day course in hygiene, including awareness of the causes of diarrhea and the need for dental care. We also give every child a towel, soap, toothbrush and tube of toothpaste. We expect that like other villages with QBL water supplies the rate of diarrhea and intestinal parasites among the people of Vilaque will drop considerably. We will be monitoring the changes in the community and visiting them for at least the next two years. When you donate to a QBL water system or greenhouse construction you are funding a long-term commitment. You are touching the lives of couples like Casiano and Abigail.