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My Week in Guizhou Province, China (Part II)__Vincent Lee (65)

Part II: The Water Projects - with the Guizhou Rose Society of Edmonton
In the initial stages of Dr. Tai's efforts to help the village people in Guizhou, he ran into considerable amount of difficulties in terms of finding the "right" people to help do the work; making trustworthy contacts, setting priorities.... and so on.  Sad to say, there is still quite a bit of corruption going on.   E.g.:  In one instance, Dr. Tai was taken in by titled mid-level provincial "officials" who met him ostensibly to "represent and promote" the best interests of the villagers and townfolks, but at the end of the day, they lined their own pockets with donated money from the Guizhou Rose Society.  Fortunately, after all that disappointment, Dr. Tai was able to connect up with Matt, who has been working in the Guiyang area for the past 44 years - an amazing gentleman, 75 and looks like 65(!), and walks fast!  Now together with other local church contacts, they work together well.  What I am describing is the fruits of their hard work.
Last year, Dr. Tai and Matt and his young assistant,Tom, visited several villages in the hills within few hours drive from Guiyang.  What they found was almost universal in these villages.  They are usually located in mid-hill, with a single road going in/out, with electricity but no (piped-in) clean water. Everyday, kids would carry two buckets, walk down narrow paths in the sometimes steep hills to get to the bottom of the valley where there is usually a little river or stream to get water.  These paths can become slippery in the rain.  By the time they get back up, half of the water is spilled, and the remaining half is muddy.  I'd imagine they probably have to do this several times a day.
We don't normal think of it in the west, we turn the tap on and it's there!  Clean water is the life line to decent living; not only essential for cooking and drinking, but for personal hygiene. Physicians from Guiyang would tell you that it is very difficult to treat and control infections (e.g. of the skin) in these villagers, because they (e.g. husband and wife, kids...) would "reinfect" each other due to lack of (water for) hygiene.  The gentlemen saw this need, and they decided the Rose Society would do something to help.  Here's what they did.
- Through church contacts in Guiyang, they found a young civil engineer perishioner willing and eager to provide volunteer help.  This fellow (I met at a dinner) designed everything, made contacts for purchasing materials, lined up local labour....., and kept an eye on everything.  All water project designs are all similar - to keep it simple.  This is what I saw.
- In this village we visited (inspected the finished work), they drilled a deep well into the water table and installed an electric pump; all enclosed in a small concrete hut - the "pump house".  An another spot near the top of the hill above the village, they built a concrete "water cube" reservoir - six-inch walls - with an intake tube near the top, outflow valve at the botton, and a manhole on the roof so you can open and check the water.  They also run a PVC pipe from a water source way upstream in the river to collect clean water to the pump house.  The two sources of water would keep the pump(?) in the pump house to get the water uphill to the "water cube".
- The pumps are regulated to keep the water cube ~90% full at all times - which is enough to supply the village for a full week's use.  The rest is done by gravity: PVC tubes are run from the reservoir to the front door of each house in the village below - a grey PVC tube sticking out with a small regulater and a tap.  The area does not freeze up in winter, tubes are simply embedded in concrete running along exterior walls of buildings.
- As our vehicles (3 together) approached the village in the morning on the only road going in/out, we heard out of the blue loud "bang-bang..." noises.  The villagers lit up a long string of fire crackers and firework to welcome our party.  We were led by the village leaders to a concrete plaque erected near the entrance to the village to recognize/commenmorate the help from the Rose Society in providing clean running water to the village (see photos in the link below).  Dr. Tai and Matt had no prior knowledge of this; they were totally and pleasantly surprised by the villagers' hospitality.  I, of course, had nothing to do with all these, and just went along for the ride to share the "fruits" of their labour in love!
- We were first shown the small "pump house" and its operation.  We then climbed up a fairly steep mud/rocky path to look at the "water cube" reservoir, capacity 110 cubic meters near the top of the hill.
- We got another unexpected surprise after we entered the village.  As we approached the first house to look at the water pipe installation, an old man about age 85 carrying a baby girl on his back (grand or great-grand daughter?), holding the little hand of a  ~3-4 year old little girl on his right, dashed out of the house.  As soon as he saw Matt and Dr. Tai, he yelled out at the top of his lungs: "Thank you grandpas for bring us clean drinking water....." , and he was going to make the little girl kneel to us!  Matt rushed forward and said: "Oh, no, no, no......you don't kneel to us....!" in amazingly perfect Mandarin.  It was a scene that could bring tears to your eyes if you were there!.  This old gentleman, owner of the hourse, for ~85 years living in this village, had never seen such clean running water.  You can tell from his face, his smile and his voice how much he appreciated that water tap at the front of his door.  Water had been running in this village for a couple of months before our visit.
- And here is the amazing fact:  For all this work: the pumps, pump house, the drilling of the water well, the water cube, and all the pipings and detail water works, all cost only approximately 1000 dollars Canadian!  And here we are, in Edmonton, debating how many hundreds of millions we want to spend building a second new sports arena downtown........!  We do live in a different world, don't we!
- Truth is, through Matt, his assistant Tom, and the young Quiyang engineer, they were able to get their materials directly from source suppliers for rock bottom prices.  All the labour was free - donated by workers in the village.  I didn't ask for details as I was an "outsider" for this project, but I overheard that they even managed to get the electric company to provide juice to run the pumps for free for so long, than at much reduced rate thereafter.  I was told this is "rare" in China; I'd say it is rare anywhere.  The Rose Society sponsored such water projects for three villages for this year.  We are planning similar installations for next year. 
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