Thursday, April 24, 2014

Malawi Water Project

The local Malawian villagers, fetching water (note that it's
often predominantly the women and children who are tasked
with fetching water in African culture).
In March, EMI sent a team of Civil Engineers to the mountainous rural areas of Malawi to assist World Vision with a problem they were having with an enormous water pipeline project they have been trying to implement. They had started the project in 2005 with the hopes of diverting a natural spring up in the mountains to several communities in the hills below, miles away. In all, the system was hopeful of providing a stable water source for up to 40,000 people across many different villages and communities in the region.

To date, they had installed about the first 33km (20 miles) of the pipeline, which would serve about 4,000 people. However, for some reason, the pipeline has been fraught with problems from the outset with no reliability in the system. In fact, the main trunk line had been installed twice and still wasn't working much of the time. The EMI team was called in to help solve the problems with this first section - a daunting task to pinpoint a problem in a 33km section of pipe!
Simple things like installing improper supports for the
pipe can compromise even the best designed system .
Whether installing the pipeline or performing repairs,
all materials must be carried into the jungle -
often several miles away from the supply store.
Even the generator to power the welding machine has to
be carried in.
Showing up on the site, it was a bit intimidating to think about how to attack the problem. But, a funny thing happened - a failure happened as the team was watching the main trunk line fill the first water tank (near the initial source point for the 4,000. As they watched, the water coming out of the pipe slowed to a trickle before stopping altogether - something had happened. As they went up the pipeline, word reached them that a burst in the line had occurred several miles upstream. Arriving at the site of the burst, it was clear that the problem was too high of pressure in the line - the burst was located at a section where the pipe had just leveled off from a steep incline.

It was a miraculous failure really, as it pin-pointed the problem for the team early on and allowed them to focus on potential solutions. It was decided that a pressure-reducing holding tank was needed to take the pressure out of the main line at the bottom of the incline - pressures that were calculated to be as high as 400psi (by comparison, a 4" PVC pipe would normally be able to withstand up to 110psi).
The burst pipe.
Another leak in the pipe.
Back in the office, I was able to help the team with the design of the tank, and given the urgency of getting the water flowing again, the report has already been finished and sent off to World Vision!

I love EMI projects like this, where the distance between our work and the felt need is very small. And, in working with a 'big fish' like World Vision, it's exciting to see word of EMI begin to reach some of the major players in world missions. After this trip, World Vision has already contacted us about helping them with two more WASH (Water and Sanitation Hygiene) projects!

You can be praying for EMI in these endeavors - as World Vision's Malawi country director Robert Kisyula put it, "I know the enemy is against you being here, because there is nothing that helps bring people out of poverty like access to clean water."
The clean water source in one village, fed by the pipeline.

Colorado Update

A 'Welcome Home' sign for us
All bags (& people) arrived home safely!
The last month and a half has been a unique time for our family! Coming back from the UK without a definite place to plant ourselves was a big faith step, but one we felt God was leading us to make. Now that things have settled a bit, we are so thankful for God's provision over the past 2 months. Here are some highlights...

1) After spending a few weeks on the West Coast at our parent's houses in California and Oregon, we made the trek out to Colorado without a place to land! Fortunately, our dear friends Fred and Laurel Beck graciously and generously opened their home to us. After a little more than week with them, our other dear friends the Reynold's allowed us to stay with them for a week and a half too. In the interest of spreading ourselves around (and against the protests of the Reynold's!) we then headed back to the Beck's for the last week before our house came available. In all, we lived with friends for just over a month!

Stopping at the 'Little America' rest stop in Wyoming has
become a tradition on our West Coast to Colorado treks.
2) On Day 1 in Colorado Springs, we were able to find a house that was right in the neighborhood we were hoping to live in and within walking distance of both the elementary school and middle school. As you may have gathered from the info above, it wasn't available for a month, but considering that there were very few houses available that were in our budget, we feel very blessed to have found a place so quickly. I'm also pleased to report that we once again have a guest room available and ready, so please do come visit us!

Opening the storage unit is always a bit of a gut check...
...but thanks to a fellow EMIers Justin and Gary, as well as
interns Phil and Ryan, we got the whole unit emptied in
about 5 hours.
3) After some wrangling, the boys were all able to get into our neighborhood public schools! Brodie is at the nearby middle school which is a 5 minute walk away, and the other two are at the elementary school that's about a 10 minute walk. We couldn't be more thrilled with their schools - they are both great schools, and they offer French on top of Spanish, which is rare in the district (our boys have taken French in their previous schools in the UK and Uganda). One day, perhaps West Africa is in our/their future (most West African countries speak French). :)

First day of school after the longest Spring Break ever.
4) The boys have all joined soccer teams and are loving having that constant back in their lives. :)

5) Things are going well at EMI - my new role has been keeping me very busy, and yet I feel like I've just scratched the surface. After helping to finish up the report from my recent project trip to Uganda with EMIUK, I've started to pick up some of the International Office work I'll be involved with. Some of the things I've been starting to work on:

a) I have been put in charge of managing the re-launch of our Latin America office, hopefully to get underway in the Summer of 2015 with language school for our new office staff.
b) I helped design a water holding tank for a water distribution project we did for World Vision in Malawi. (More on that in a follow-up post also posted today!)
c) I have been a part of some new staff interviews as a part of managing our HR team - exciting to see more potential staff on the way.
d) I've begun the process of taking over the responsibility of supervising our Finance department .
e) I've been sitting in on just about every meeting that's come up - HR, Finance, Disaster Response, Publications, Projects, Interns, etc.
f) I've also started to help coordinate some of our special events - conferences, seminars, and other 'get the word out' type of events, etc.
g) Travel-wise, I'll probably be heading down to somewhere in Latin America to visit a few potential office locations come this Fall.
Fellow EMIer Dirk telling the Easter story to the boys and
some other kids in their neighborhood at their annual
'eggstravaganza' egg hunt.
6) With each move we've made in the past few years, one of the most significant milestones is getting internet service connected at home. This milestone was finally reached this past week... which is why you're finally seeing a blog post!

Ok that's the brief rundown on where we're at these days. For prayer requests, you can pray for Alisha's job situation. She's submitted all of her paperwork to obtain her Colorado teaching license, so now it's just a matter of waiting for the primary school jobs to start opening up here and to see what might be a good fit for her. Or, if God wouldn't have her work full-time, that he would make that clear too. For the boys, you can pray for friendships as the 'newness' of moving back here settles in. And finally, for me, that I'd be a quick learner at work! :)

After two years in storage, the boys' bikes
are getting heavy use these days!
Thank you all for your support through our many seasons of EMI! We are looking forward to this new one and excited about all we'll be a part of with the growing ministry of EMI. Stay tuned...