Monday, December 7, 2009

Clean Water for Cabecar

"Service is an active expression of valuing our common humanity, our diversity, and the natural world."

This statement comes straight from the Costa Rica Outward Bound website under the Mission and Philosophy page. It is one of our goals to enrich the students not only through the challenges they face in and around the rainforest, but also through the assistance they provide in the local communities. The needs of the country and its communities change from year to year, so it is important that we go on reconnaissance missions to find new projects with which the students and employees can help.

Last October, Shawn Pendergrass and Orlando Zamora went on such a mission to Valle Escondido ("Hidden Valley" in Spanish), in the Turrialba area, to visit the indigenous Cabecar tribe to which visitors must hike 12km through mountainous rainforest terrain. This trek takes about three hours from a road.

What brought them to such a remote location?

Orlando, a long-time volunteer and friend to this group, has wanted to supply this eight-house, 50-person village with clean water for years. Currently, only the school and two homes are connected to water. The others get their water through hoses originating in nearby springs. Silt and parasites frequently contaminate them causing a multitude of illnesses, some of which are fatal. The main cause of death for the indigenous children, in fact, is dehydration and illness from bad water.

This clean water project, spearheaded by Shawn (the Community Outreach Coordinator) and Orlando (veteran Land Instructor), will supply the entire village with safe and reliable drinking water. To begin such a project, they must bring two large, 1,100-liter blue tanks. No special transportation exists to bring them - they, too, must be carried 12km on foot, in addition to the rest of the materials which include: tools for digging and cutting, pipes, connectors and spouts, and water treatment supplies. Shawn and Orlando need plenty of help from CRROBS students if they want to complete this project.

Enter: University of Alabama.

This Sunday, December 13th, we welcome eleven UA students and their chaperone, Josh Burford, the Coordinator of Freshman Community Outreach for the Community Service Center. Six of their eight days will be spent assisting Shawn and Orlando in Valle Escondido setting up the clean water to the area. The village will have clean water by Christmas, in addition to new school supplies, clothing, and toys the UA students will be contributing. Doña Carmen, a member of the CRROBS base staff, also donated a large trash bag of stuffed animals.

As a reward for their hard work, the students will thankfully have a day rafting the Rio Pacuare. That is, if their tired bodies make it that far.

To view photos of Shawn's and Orlando's reconnaissance mission in October, click here.

One month later, watch their experience in this video montage:

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