Boy oh boy, what a day! Mika here, checking in from our nearly completed project. Can you believe it? NEARLY COMPLETED! Today was our last full day of work and man let me tell you, we worked our patooties off. We spent the day finalizing, touching up, piping, teaching and entertaining. The day started early again since we have found the heat is much less draining at 5am. Although… college students could argue waking up at 5am is equally as draining. However, the early mornings have paid off and everything is coming together just in time for the grand opening tomorrow!
Navigating the Labyrinth
After finalizing the structural components of the station, today we moved forward with the plumbing work. The Labyrinth emerged at the crack of dawn and a few brave souls dared to enter. Sarah, our resident pipe queen, was joined by Nick in the quest to finalize and execute the piping design for the inflow and drainage systems inside the station. They both spent most of the day crammed in the nooks and crannies of the station’s interior. We had a team assembled on the outside prepping equipment and cutting PVC pipes for their use.
The Imagination Station Becomes the Hydration Station
While the piping was coming together on the inside, the exterior of the station was getting some finishing touches. We began the installation process for the fiber board paneling that we will be screwed into the front of each sink to cover the PVC piping to the drains and faucets. Additionally, we finished up the landscaping through the yard leading to and around the station. Wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow and rock after rock, the pathways came together as a great addition to the aesthetic to the station. Last but certainly not least, Tian (our masonry savior aka a kickass lady I aspire to be) stopped by with her daughter to finish the stucco on the top of the station. Overall, at the end of the day the area had transformed from The Imagination Station to The Hydration Station. All the plans and ideas came together into something tangible. All the doubts and concerns fell away as we stepped back and looked at what we created. It’s difficult to describe the feeling you get from designing something and building it with your own hands. In my opinion it is one of the best feelings in this world. What I felt today was far superior to my past experiences because the success came from the contribution of so many people and the purpose of the project serves such an import role.
,Taming the Outback
The Outback was finally tamed this afternoon, but we needed some heavy-duty machinery to get it done. Backfilling the trenches would have been a time-consuming challenge by shovel, so Khem brought in the big guns with a skilled tractor dude. Not to say The Outback crew wasn’t up for the task, but we aren’t complaining. Within minutes The Outback was transformed into a beautiful and most importantly, flat landscape.
Too Cool for School
Another highlight of the day was our trip to the nearby school. Thanks to Savannah, we were amply prepared for our time with the entire school, approximately 200 kiddos (insert nervous laugh). We split them up into three groups and rotated them through with the help of Kan, Mook, Dream, Khem and Pimjai. The first station involved English-learning activities including charades and picture/word matching. At this station, the importance of clean drinking water and healthy daily water intake was emphasized throughout the activities. The second station got the creative juices flowing with some pictaphone and human knot games. The last station took us outside to the school soccer field where Nick, Hannah, Ryan and I lathered up shaving cream on our faces for some pretty priceless entertainment from “Q-tip Face”. As the name might have suggested, we handed the kids Q-tips and made it a competition to see which group could get the most stuck on their group leader’s face. It was amazing to see the joy and excitement that resulted from the simplicity of it. It was a straightforward activity that brought people together from opposite sides of the world with few words needed. In a way, it was an activity that shattered the language barrier between us as we communicated through laughter and exaggerated hand motions. As we handed out the gifts we had packaged together (containing school supplies and a couple treats) we said goodbye to our new friends as they packed up to head home.
After the festivities, we met with the school principal to scout out a potential project on the school campus for next year’s team. We spent some time measuring, taking pictures, videoing, and measuring some more around the potential site. I won’t dive into the details but the proposed project is focused on teaching the younger kids about hygiene and personal care with a hand washing station.
I want to close this post by thanking my teammates for all the hard work they have put in over the course of the year. It has been an epic journey and I am so glad we got to ride this wild ride together. Y'all are brilliant, fun, weird humans that are going to do amazing things in life. To Kan, Mook and Dream, you three have made this entire project possible while also making this an experience of a lifetime for us. We are so grateful to have you as part of our team and to have bonded with you over the past weeks. You're kindness and patience are unparalleled and I know you will continue to do wonderful things in the years to come. Throughout this year, this project has impacted my knowledge, perceptions, and opinions on the world. I am at a loss for words to describe my gratitude to all of those who have contributed to the project to make this experience a reality.
Signing off with much love and many thanks,
“Water links us to our neighbor in a way more profound and complex than any other.”