By Member, Rotary Club of Tulsa, LINDA BRADSHAW
Photos By Member, Rotary Club of Tulsa, TINA MILLER
Six members of the Rotary Club of Tulsa, plus a son, a spouse and two church friends, 10 in all, departed Tulsa International Airport on February 23 for the Rotary Club of Tulsa’s annual visit to Nicaragua to view the club’s International Water Well Project.
The trip was originally scheduled earlier this year but was delayed due to the winter snowstorms. With airline tickets changed and hotel reservations confirmed, the small delegation departed, loaded down with many items, including parts for the drilling rig, donated shoes, school supplies and international friendship candy.
The mission was to check, investigate, view, evaluate, affirm Rotary International partnerships and confirm the progress of the investments of the Rotary Club of Tulsa. The group was optimistic to be on site as the drilling rig was operating. They hoped to witness the precious gift of water brought into remote barrio areas.
Upon arriving late at the Managua airport after the three-plus hour flight from Houston, the group immediately checked into the Best Western Hotel across the street from the airport. Early the next morning, the delegation boarded a small air-conditioned transportation bus, secured luggage on top, and departed for the first stop in Rivas, nearly four hours away.
Although it is in a geographical area heavy with lava, 12 successful wells have been drilled there, resulting in many friendships. Monsignor Alfonso Alvarado Luco, Popoyuapa community leader and acting intermediary for the potable water project, took the group into communities to view schools, churches and visit with the small barrio community leaders where the Rotary wells have changed lives. Surprised, the group was told by welcoming ladies that they were “useful servants.” Requests for more wells, especially one for a school, were presented to Water Well Chairman David Peterson. This was just one of many requests to the group as it made its way to other small barrio communities.
Nicaragua’s national newspaper, La Prenza, sent reporters and a photographer to cover the visit. The newspaper gave the visit impressive publicity.
The message from the Nicaragua friends would be the same everywhere the group went. A choreographed blessing would come at each well site:
“First we thank God”
We thank God for you”
Moving along down the road, the delegation arrived at the community of Monte Oret for a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new well. Balloons were strung between trees and chairs were arranged for the guests as dogs roamed in an out and chickens became part of the landscape.
The ceremony began with songs, prayers and speeches. A tiny girl cut the ribbon with a small pair of scissors from a special basket. The water well was now “officially” dedicated. Grateful hearts were expressed for the “life” that water brings. The well will become a “hub” for hundreds of the group’s Nicaragua friends.
Throughout Nicaragua, the second poorest country in Central America, the critical needs for potable water are evident everywhere. Visitations at Chacaraseca, Quesalguaque, San Lorenzo, La Estacion Communit and Telica show efforts of the Rotary partnerships. The benefits of “life” that water brings would ring true throughout each of the many stops along the way.
Over the course of six days the hearts of the group would be touched by the expressions of gratitude from the habitants of each barrio community.
In addition to the inspections at previously drilled sites, a presentation of medical supplies provided by Rotary District 6110 MSNI, was made at the hospital in Leon. The medical supply needs remain critical and the doctors, while appreciative of the donation, had additional requests for hospital tables for surgery.
The schools in the region need desks, paper and chalkboards; the requests seem to never end.
The highlight of the trip for everyone was the witnessing of the drilling rig in action. Waiting for hours in the hot Nicaraguan sun, watching the drillers under the supervision and training of Mickey Moore, members of the group would be rewarded with water shooting from the ground as it covered the dry, cracked parched ground.
The dedication of two of the wells was very emotional. One was in honor of Kenny Duncan, head chef at First United Methodist Church. The other was in honor of Beth Peterson, David Petersons’ mother who passed away just as the delegation was preparing to leave. Her last request was that David make the trip…regardless.
Over 200 successful water wells have been drilled in Nicaragua since 2002. The work continues thanks to generous Rotarians throughout the District and seventy participating clubs. Special recognition goes to driller Mickey Moore for his valiant efforts as he continues to train the Nicaraguan crews.
Photos by TINA MILLER
ROTARIANS AND FRIENDS: Members of the Water Well Delegation included Rotarians Linda Bradshaw, Tina Miller, Brenda Melancon, Jack McGlumphy, David Peterson and his wife Elaine Peterson, Rotarian Fred DiLibero and his son B. J. DiLibero, and friends of the group Jeff and Tyler Nevins. They are posing with friends from Nicaragua.
FEATURE PHOTO – COOL WATER: Nicaraguan villagers enjoy fresh water provided by a well drilled with the help of the Rotary Club of Tulsa.