22 November: Our mini-retreat started with a 5am local bus from los chiles to upala, gallo pinto and scrambled eggs breakfast, and hanging out at the bus terminal ‘til Pip met us. We stopped at a women owned lunch spot before heading to Biagua to their B&B: Casitas Tenorio. It’s a lovely setting: small working farm on the road up to Volcan Tenorio National Park. Ask G to share a photo of the toucans or the oropendulums or the howler monkeys! We discovered this piece of paradise in 2015 and missed being with the family last year because of Hurricane Otto.
The national news is recapping this first anniversary of Costa Rica’s first hurricane and we’ll hear from locals how their recovery is progressing. Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and others whose lives were turned upside down this hurricane season. Global warming increases the severity of weather patterns and we are reminded at almost every elementary school here with signs instructing us to “take care of our precious planet” and with these gratefulness.org quotes:
I feel like I know a few things, and one that’s important is that we have to be strong enough to continue to love and care about the generations to come in the way our ancestors have done for us. Laurie Weahkee
The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another. Thomas Merton
We had a list of upcoming events with our last update…here’s the synopsis:
— The Agua Viva Serves team completed the documentation of all 68 well sites, so they can better track the status, develop impact reports, and plan for sustainability
— The key factor for sustainability is building community capacity for governance of their water systems. Costa Rica has a network of private water cooperatives (ASADAs), which have specialized training from AyA (institute for water and sanitation) for their important roles in complying with Ministry of Health standards for quantity and quality of potable water. AyA also educates on water conservation and other environmental factors. I think AVS has turned a corner with two key connections!
— First is our visit with Self Help International in San Carlos, Nicaragua with Joel, director of international operations, and Chente, the local AVS project lead. SHI’s water chlorination projects are based on a community-empowerment model with trainings, decision-making structure, and fiscal accountability. This model has great appeal for the Agua Viva leadership to ensure local responsibility and lessen their role in routine maintenance and repairs as well as fiscal operations. This photo is of the visit to see how the chlorinator is installed in the water tank for one of the rural community-based sites not more than 10 km from the border…
— And then, through a series of conversations with a local community developer (with his experience on USAID projects in northern Costa Rica), an agreement to assist Chente with meetings among 2-3 communities about capacity-building for their ‘water committees’ and formal structures for the governance of their water systems for the long-term. Chente is keen on building this process and with a good coach I think it will be successful. We are keeping notes on and making lists of the training ideas…we will be checking with the Community Development Association folks about their role, too!
— Other players in supporting capacity-building are the Ministry of Health and AyA. Both have regulatory and enforcement roles which can be cumbersome, expensive and time consuming for communities. The remote communities are not high on their list of priorities, but AVS’s work is building an awareness of how this an NGO can impact the health and well-being of these communities. Developing a collaborative working relationship is a stated priority for the Area Director of Minsitry of Health, which can help with AyA’s support, too. Please keep all these processes in your thoughts and prayers!
Some of the heavy lifting, and also photogenic, projects have been welding and installing lids for a few of the well boxes, building a fence at one well site, installing/repairing water meters, and an electrical repair…
The most exciting outcome from the visit with SHI is the possibility of drilling a well with them. They are all set with on-going support from municipality, health and water governmental departments, which hopefully can lessen the border crossing issues with AVS vehicles and team …TBD!
26 November: We’ve returned from the rainy chilly rainforest with a renewed appreciation for the challenges of that climate: paper disintegrates so quickly (CostaRican bills are plastic for a reason!), clothing rarely dries in the rainy season…and anything dry absorbs the moisture in the air. It is perfect weather for sloths which grow algae on their fur which sustains over 100 species of moths, we read in the Casitas’ info notebook! We enjoyed pitching in with tasks to help our friends with landscaping and construction projects, to be completed before the high tourist season, 4 weeks from now!
Thanksgiving Blessings to all of you! n & G