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Working together to bring clean water to San Ramón- a look back on the relationship between SCSRN and SW Durham Rotary

Our founder, Lonna Harkrader, writes about how San Ramón re-built its water system, and also how the community of Las Delicias came to have electricity.

In 2002, the mayor asked SCSRN to help build a new water system for the urban area of San Ramón. During the rainy season, the water was dirty, and during the dry season, there was a water shortage, with most families only having water a few times each week. We made a proposal to the Southwest Durham Rotary Club, and they sent three members to San Ramón to meet with the mayor, engineers from the water company, and members of the local Rotary Club (from the nearby city of Matagalpa).

Over a period of several years, the local water company studied different possible sites for the well and came up with the engineering proposals, while the SW Durham Rotary secured a matching grant from Rotary International. They each donated $25,000 to the project, and SCSRN raised $30,000, for a total of $80,000.

Finally, it was time to dig the well. There was some disagreement over where to put the well, but in the end, everyone agreed to a spot in the community of Las Delicias. SCSRN bought the piece of land where the well would be built. The next challenge was laying pipe to pump the water to the town’s existing water storage tanks. Because the pump would require electricity and there was none in the community, we met with community members to propose that in exchange for digging the trench for the pipe, the electric company would extend electricity to their homes as part of the project. They accepted, and when the well was dug, the volume of water was much more than expected. There were no longer water shortages in the town of San Ramón, and the water was always clean. Moreover, the people of Las Delicias had electricity in their homes for the first time.

Community member Alcides Martinez O’Campo, had this to say about the project in a thank-you letter:

“It is incredible to have electricity. I feel very grateful to the gringos.  We go into Matagalpa to pay the bill. My bill is usually around 47 cordobas, very reasonable. Other families pay more because they have more light bulbs.

Before we had this electricity we used candles. Our children did their homework by candlelight. We feel very good. Electricity is a miracle. We feel really good to have electricity.  If there ever is need for light in the middle of the night we just turn on the lights. Having electricity is a great advantage. For instance during the harvest when my wife gets up at 3 am to get ready to go to work she can see well. If someone is stalking about at night we just turn on the light and it scares off the intruders. With electricity we feel much safer. We can see whenever we need to. Those who have cell phones can charge them. We can iron clothes and watch TV.

Someone comes to our homes once a month to read the meter and leave us a bill.

I have written a lot. I didn’t know there was so much to tell. But you have all the facts. Now others will know we are grateful.”

In addition, 14 families in Las Marias, a community north of Las Delicias, were able to connect to electricity. First they had to purchase electric line and posts. Finca Esperanza Verde, an eco-lodge and coffee farm founded by SCSRN, donated the money for these materials, and the community installed them.

The urban area of San Dionisio, a neighboring municipality, recently ran out of water. Because the San Ramón well produced so much water, there was enough to also serve the failing water project in San Dionisio. The water was transported by truck. There was some worry that the San Ramón water system wouldn’t be able to support both towns, but because the well is so prolific, it was able to supply water long enough for San Dionisio to dig more wells for their own community.

We completed this project with the SW Durham Rotary back in 2008 and it is still providing clean water to San Ramón, 12 years later. In these times of Covid-19, we are even more aware of the importance of clean water in keeping families healthy. We hope to continue bringing water to the rural communities of San Ramón.

If you would like to support our efforts to bring clean water to rural communities in San Ramón, please contact us!

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About Anjie Price

Anjie is Executive Director of Sister Communities, first and foremost an educator. She is originally from Mississippi, but now is a permanent resident of Matagalpa, Nicaragua. Her favorite part about working with SCSRN is being involved in education in new and creative ways.

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