Day 4- The alarm went off at 5AM and the sky was already getting light. Not knowing exactly how the day would go, we packed all of our gear hoping we would be visit both Kabilash and Aapchour today. By 6:30am, we brought our bags downstairs, set them by the front door, and sat down for breakfast. Most of the weekend crowd had checked out so we were alone in the dining area. We enjoyed a breakfast of masala tea, an omelet, yogurt, grilled tomato halves, sauteed vegetables, and sliced ham. Our driver arrived on time and he joined us for some tea as we went over our plans. We finished breakfast and headed out of Kathmandu. The streets were familiar as we took the same route as last year. The shops were opening, kids in their uniforms were walking to school and the rush hour traffic... what am I talking about?!....when it's light out, it always feels like "rush hour" traffic! After driving for about 15 minutes, we stopped to pick up Lakha (pronounced "lake") Prasanth, a man who helped us on last year's project. He was happy to join us again this year, in Aapchour. As we talked, we realized we needed a bucket and some pipe for our ram pump demonstration so we started scanning the stores as we drove by. We made a couple stops, even at one recycle junk shop but 2-inch pipe in a metric country proved difficult to find. Pipe larger than 1-inch is generally used for irrigation and most of the shops only sell items for home use. We finally found the store we were looking for. Of all the unexpected places to find, we found a water pump store. Rick immediately started picking up every item and taking pictures of everything. We found the pipe we needed and made notes of the other items we would return and buy after we measured the exact amount we needed in Aapchour. After 15 minutes we were back on the road. Several stretches of the road had been widened but it was still a very bumpy ride. We recognized several buildings, houses, and views from last year as we started to climb the mountain road. They moved the army checkpoint to the highest peak as we crossed into the next valley. The door magnets we made for our car and our WFSV shirts really helped us pass through the checkpoint. We looked much more official as an NGO (non-government organization).
We rounded the mountain and started to descend into Nuwakot District. Going down hill is much more frightening as we rounded switchbacks with no guardrails and an endless drop-off. The driver would steer right for the edge and make a quick turn as we also had to avoid other traffic. We came into the center of Kabilash by 9:30AM. We stopped to buy a case of bottled water and have a hole cut into our 10gallon water bucket so we could install a bulkhead connection to connect to our pipe. We attract a lot of attention in an otherwise sleepy little town. We gathered our last items and started our climb up the next hill to the Kabilash Village.
Our first stop was at the former Mayor’s house. He did not run for re-election this year. We stopped for some tea and his wife made us a plat of pumpkin vine, rice with pickle sauce, dal bhat, and fresh warm milk. We talked about the project, changes in the area and said hello as people walked by. The Mayors son also joined us and then we got back into the now very crowded SUV and drove up to Kabilash village. The road was dry but it was full of very VERY large ruts. Our drive went slow, switched to 4x4, navigated the curves, the boulders, the cows, the people walking and the buses coming in the opposite direction. After some tense moments we rounded the final curve and arrived in Kabilash. The traditional band of drums and horns was waiting for our arrival. They started to play when we stepped out of the car. Everyone greeted us with the traditional blessing and big smiles. We spotted Kumar, our workcrew foreman, was wearing his WFSV shirt from last year. We all marched up the road and climbed the “hill” to the new water tank. They had built a bamboo archway for the ceremony and Cordella cut the ribbon. We walked through the arch and stepped up on the water tank. They removed the cover so we could inspect the water and it was full. The overflow was even releasing water. We took lots of pictures from every angle. The village is very proud of the tank both because they kept their word and built it with our help and because it meets the modern government standards for water tanks in the region. After we inspected the tank we went back by the arch and sat in chairs they had set up for us. Madhov gave a short speech declairing the project a success and how happy we are being able to help them. They put flower leis around our necks, hey presented us with yellow ceremonial scarves and then they put red powder on our forehead, and both cheeks. Then Madhoc presented a black granite plaque in memory of our son Eric, who died in a car crash in 2015. It was very emotional as we dedicated the water tank in his memory.
After the ceremony the band started again and played as we hiked down the hill to the school. We arrived in the schoolyard where there were about 200 people waiting for us. We presented them with a poster of the best group photo with all the school kids from last year, we printed 100 of the best photos from last year of the people and handed out copies to them, and then we presented a giant $1,000 check to the principal of the school to repair the school water tank. Bob Brown donated the funds in memory of Barbara who passed away last year. We had a black granite plaque we presented to be mounted on the tank when it is complete. To top it all off, in front of everyone, we also presented the actual $1,000 in cash for the water tank since the check was ceremonial ala Publishers Clearinghouse.
Then if that wasn’t enough excitement for everyone, Rick launched his new drone. It took off and all the kids cheered as is circled overhead taking aerial videos of the schoolyard. He flew it over the schoolyard and then tried to fly it over the water tank but just missed. We’ll try again in a few days when we go back. Then it was tie to demo the water hammer. It’s a 400 year old piece of technology, a primitive pump that works on gravity and water pressure. Having made 2 in our backyard rick put the PVC pipe together, connecting it to HDPE pipe of a different size and tried really hard to get it working. Several people got soaked as they tried to balance the pressure and get it running and finally they succeeded. It wasn’t a roar of excitement but several of the farmers looked on with interest and asked questions as the pump was in motion clacking away. We will demo the pump again at the Kathmandu University later next week.
After the ceremony we had time to inspect the water lines the people installed on their own after we finished our potion of the project. It all worked very well. All the public water taps have water meters and they keep track of who donates $1.00 each month or volunteers to help maintain the water system. It’s truly a collaborative project in the village. Just what we had hoped for. We saw several taps, took pictures of people using the water and then it was time to go. We had a drive getting back down the dirt roads on the hill and it was starting to rain. We made it to the bottom and then we met a man who had a water pump installed by the river. He took us out to the pumphouse so we could see how his pump worked. It was a different style system than the one we plan to install in Aapchour but we took notes and learned a few things. As the sun started to go down we loaded the car and headed back to Kathmandu.
The conversation went on so strong we missed our planned stop for a cold drink so we opted for the next location at the mountain top where we start descending into Kathmandu. We stopped and then another car pulled over because they saw our magnets and shirts with the WFSV logo. They were another NGO group from Malta. They had a multi-million dollar project in Aapchour rebuilding houses and we had Aapchour in big letters on our shirts. We sat together and sharing information about our organizations. We had so much in common, we had been to many of the same places in Haiti, Madagascar and Nepal. We had water as a central theme. We made quick friends, exchanged cards and made plans to continue talking to see if we could collaborate in the future. As the sunset our driver was anxious to get back to the city so we departed. We made it to Persand’s house where is wife had prepared dinner for us. His two grandchildren live with them and they were anxious to practice their English with us. We had a delicious traditional Napali dinner as we discussed our project plans for the next day. We were all exhausted and soon started to nod off so it was time to head back to the hotel and call it a day. It was a thrill to see the results of our work in Kabilash and to see the joy in all the people of the village.