Editor’s Note: The post below was written by Sam Klein, a volunteer from the US that will be working with Mano a Mano Internacional in Bolivia for the next few months. This is Sam’s seventh post (CLICK HERE to read the first one about their first few weeks with Oxford students at the CEA, CLICK HERE to read the second one about building greenhouses in Tapacari, CLICK HERE to read about Bolivian farmers visiting the CEA for eco-education, CLICK HERE to read about volunteers preparing donated medical supplies for distribution in Bolivia, CLICK HERE to read about Mano a Mano’s newest water reservoir in Wirkini, Bolivia, and CLICK HERE to read about Mano a Mano’s October 8th, 2016 distribution of thousands of pounds of medical supplies). We will be posting more from Sam over the next few months about activities at Mano a Mano.
Sam is an 18-year-old volunteer from Boston, Massachusetts on his breach year from high school, with plans to pursue a degree in journalism. Sam arrived in Bolivia on July 26, 2016 to volunteer with Mano a Mano in the Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA).
Farmers and Mano a Mano Celebrate Wirkini Water Reservoir Dedication
Hundreds braved cold and wind to watch water flow through a concrete channel for the first time.
For the farmers that made the trip to Wirkini on Tuesday, Oct. 18, the trip was well worth it, as was the four years of work leading up to that date.
Tuesday was the dedication of the Wirkini reservoir, which now provides water for upwards of 2,000 people in five separate communities. Hundreds of beneficiaries listened to speeches at the foot of the reservoir’s levee, despite temperatures dipping into the 40s and a brutal wind for most of the day.
The speeches, though, were only leading up to the most exhilarating moment of the day.
Just before noon, one of the many people who worked on the reservoir lifted a metal plate, cut a pale blue ribbon, and turned a wheel.
As soon as he had done that, all the people who were lined up on the edges of the channel erupted in a cheer as water began to flow out of a hole from the reservoir. They watched the water flow through the concrete, and a few ran down the mountain at top speed, following the water for as long as they could.
They watched the water flow through the concrete, and a few ran down the mountain at top speed, following the water for as long as they could.
For all of those watching and cheering, the water that they now have access to is incredibly important. After Bolivia’s worst drought in 25 years, crops nationwide have been lost. The communities that Wirkini helps are no exception.
Now, that’s all changed.
After four years of work on the reservoir, farmers no longer are forced to depend on sporadic rains and an unpredictable rainy season. Crops will no longer fail – a regular occurrence before Wirkini – because the 2,000 people now have a constant, reliable source of water.
Being able to rely on crop availability year-round means that starvation is no longer a threat. Children, now able to depend on a consistent availability of water, will grow taller and stronger. Wirkini has transformed the lives of hundreds of families in Tiraque Municipality, which was clearly visible on the faces of everyone watching the wheel turn.
The locals prepared a meal for Mano a Mano after the dedication to thank them for their work and support. Furthering the celebration, this consisted of fish taken from the reservoir.
Before, failing crops meant that farmers had to turn to the sky and hope. With Wirkini, droughts are no longer life-threatening; thousands of Bolivians now have dependable access to water.
All it takes is a turn of a wheel.
More Information about the Wirkini Water Reservoir
- Note from Mano a Mano co-founder Segundo Velasquez from the dedication
- Pictures & information from August when construction was being finalized
- Post from volunteer Sam Klein about a site visit to Wirkini in September