Rain from the skirts of Hurricane Mitch lashed the ancient Landcruiser as it hurtled along the dark tar snake of the Pan American Highway. Cans of burning oil belched out black smoke and orange flames in a line along the carriageway to demarcate roadworks. Sodden policemen waved us on as workers tried to salvage their equipment from the storm. I had arrived in Guatemala.
A few days later I was standing by the shore of Lake Atitlan, in the town of San Lucas Toliman. I was staring down a large diameter well choked with electric cables and rising mains. Off to my a left a team of community members were digging a trench for a new 4″ PVC pipeline that would snake up the ridge behind the town and down to the scattered finca (coffee plantation) hamlets on the other side.
The foreman turned to me and asked whether their pump would have enough power to get water up to their people living on the side on the volcano. All eyes were on me. Not hostile, not friendly, just expecting an answer from this young gringo ‘expert’. I was gripped by fear. My stomach cramped, my heart-rate went through the roof. This wasn’t a university field trip, my career as a WASH professional had just begun.
How do I start a career in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)?
Continue reading “How did you wash up doing WASH?”