Saturday, May 23, 2009

BCC fund raiser in Calgary Sunday Night

Jan and I are getting ready to leave for Calgary. We are fortunate to be able to attend the first annual fund raiser for Trevor and Janaki's Bolivia Canada Clean Water Network. Sadly, Trevor and Janaki are not able to come to the event. Trevor is working on his master's project in Peru, which is trying to minimize ground-water contamination from a Canadian mining operation. Janaki is working on her master's project, which is a public health study in Mexico city. Interestingly, I just read on the CBC today that Mexico city is also facing a water crisis.

I feel truly blessed to go to this event. When Trevor and Janaki went to Bolivia in 2006, I never imagined how they would impact that country and how Bolivia would impact them. They went out with the intention of helping to start a project for a new Canadian NGO and ended up founding a brand-new organization. It was not easy for them.

At one point, after they had been in Bolivia for about 6 months, Trevor phoned us and expressed tremendous discouragement about the way things had gone. The fledgling NGO was out of money and they were not only covering their own costs (as they had from the beginning) but Trevor and Janaki were also paying for the project costs. Even with that, it appeared the project was doomed because of poor organization, family politics in the NGO and a very high failure rate in casting the concrete filter boxes.

At the end of the conversation, I encouraged Trevor to give up. I logically explained to him that they had less than 3 months left in Bolivia and they had not done any travelling yet. Why didn't they just leave Ascension behind and go see South America?

Trevor patiently explained to me that they felt an obligation to the people of Ascension and he wasn't going to walk away from them. They had promised them clean water and they didn't want to leave until it was done. Then he told me that somehow he knew that if they just kept trying, something good was going to happen soon.

Well, Trevor couldn't have been more right. Trevor and Janaki started a new NGO along with pastor Ernesto of the local pentecostal church. Then they got plans for new filter molds from CAWST and went to a local welder to get the molds constructed. In doing this, they learned the previous organization had built their molds incorrectly and that was the cause of much of their earlier problems. Then another amazing thing happened. People started showing up to help. First Roberto, the assistant pastor stepped forward. Then Philippe, a native of the highlands came by and offered to work for them. Finally Angel, a lowland native came to watch their work and finally came for a job. Then this little group, with somewhat reluctant help from the local municipality, started making water filters to benefit the poorest of the families in Ascension.

I had the privilege of visiting them in Bolivia during April of 2007. They were just getting ready to install their very first filters. Somehow this unlikely group had cut across the deep divides of Bolivian politics, culture and classes to form an organization committed to the common good. When Trevor and Janaki returned to Canada in late May of 2007 there were about 20 filters completed and installed. Today, thanks to the generous donations from family and friends, there must be close to 300 families who are benefiting from clean water.

And to add to that, a wonderful group of people have come together in Calgary to volunteer their time and talents for a fund-raiser to help keep the organization together. It is truly a blessing to be associated with this group of people.

Hope you can all come and support the event!

Sunday May 24 5:00 PM La Pachanga Restaurant 918 12 Ave SW Calgary

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