Community Plumbing Challenge 2017: Day 4

Community Plumbing Challenge 2017: Day 4

Editor’s Note: Randy Lorge is one of the coaches for the Community Plumbing Challenge team, which is currently in Indonesia doing a project for a school in a small village. It’s the third year for the program that aims to bring together plumbers and engineers from around the world to help regions that still lack basic sanitation and access to clean drinking water. Lorge will be blogging each day during the team’s time in Indonesia, detailing the work that they are doing.

Today the team came out of the gates on a mission. After the greetings and celebration the school children and their teachers put on for us yesterday, it was going to take an act of God to stop this team from its work. Everyone was very fired up to start.

When we arrived at the site it was similar to a small army heading to battle — each group knew exactly what task it needed to address. My team was posed with the task of connecting to the existing 3/4-inch galvanized water service which enters the school property and serves a single hose bibb. From this one tap, community members fill their buckets and use the water as needed. The water service is only on for about two to three hours a day and then shut off by the city, leaving the school and community without water. Our job was to route the water service to a 500 plus gallon storage tank, which will feed the plumbing system by gravity and provide enough storage for about a day.

The pipe threading we had to do was done by hand which made it a little slow going.

One of the members of my team is from Singapore, a young plumbing engineer named Desmond. He allows me to call him Dez. He has very limited knowledge of the practical installation of plumbing as he spends most of his time drafting plumbing systems back home. Dez is a great young man who has a very bright future and an incredible desire to learn. Helping Dez understand the “how” of plumbing has to be one of the most rewarding things I’ve had the chance to do this week. Paying it forward is what life is truly about.

The job site was a buzz of activity. So much craftsmanship and such a strong sense of pride in doing something good for others was evident everywhere. For me, next to teaching Dez how to do things and explaining why we do what we do as plumbers, the most humbling thing that happened today was when the father of one of the children from the school approached me, grabbed my hand, and said, “Thank you, thank you for helping us.”

How do you respond to something like that? You’re welcome? It’s not a big deal? Don’t worry about it? No, you look that father straight in the eye and say, “Thank you, thank you for letting me be here. This is a beautiful village, and there is nothing on this earth that I would rather be doing right now.”

Because … well, because there isn’t.


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