The tree that is beside the running water is fresher and gives more fruit.
~Saint Teresa of Avila
The first time we visited the tiny community of Los Ramos, at the base of Vulcan Concepcion, Francisco’s mother gave us a bottle of Coca Cola and a watermelon. She knew that walking a half mile down the steep and rocky path to their village parched us. Sipping on the warm Coca Cola, we watched Francisco’s grandfather unloaded two large, worn plastic water containers from the back of his horse.
“We don’t think your bodies are accustomed to our well water, so we bought you Coca Cola and a watermelon,” Francisco’s mother replied. We graciously accepted her gifts, hoping that we could eat the large watermelon at her house, because it was a long, steep uphill walk back to the main road to catch the bus.
Francisco’s mother explained to us that they made a four-mile trip to get water, two times a day. An ancient hand-dug well located next to the lake supplied the water for the community of Los Ramos. “Why is the well located so far away?” I asked. She responded, “The community of Los Ramos used to be near the lake, but we had to relocate when the Spanish conquistadors invaded the island.” When the Spanish conquistadors invaded the island??? I thought. “That was so long ago,” I said. “Why didn’t you move your community back to the lake after the invasion, or dig another well closer to your new place?” I asked.
“Maybe, we were lazy,” she laughed. That was the only response I got, yet I knew this community wasn’t lazy. For hundreds of years, they hauled the water from a hand-dug well to supply their community. Not only was it a time-consuming and back- breaking chore, but the well is located dangerously close to the lake making me wonder about the quality of the water. Many members in the community complain of kidney problems.
Three years ago, the families in Los Ramos decided they were tired of hauling water. Their family members were getting older and the young ones were moving away. Hauling water two times a day was exhausting. They formed a community association, planned and performed plays of the history of Los Ramos, and requested donations to install water lines and buy a water pump.
Their new water supply will come from a lake in the crater of the dormant volcano Maderas. Although, many families in the surrounding communities receive the gift of running water through a gravity-fed system, Los Ramos is too far away for gravity to work its magic.
After three long years and months of community effort, children, parents, grandparents, and other relatives dug ditches, installed water lines, bought a pump, and waited patiently for the water to flow into their homes. But, there was an unforeseen problem. The electricity supplying their community was shared on a transformer with too many other communities. The power they received was not strong enough to run the pump. They had to buy a $2,000 electric transformer from the electric company and install it in Los Ramos to see the efforts of all their hard work.
I only discovered their need for a transformer a few days before Christmas. In my grief over a close friend’s death, I tried to channel my sorrow into constructive action. I posted on my blog, called, and emailed close friends and family about the need for a transformer for Los Ramos. The next day, my prayers were answered. Los Ramos received a donation to buy the electric transformer.
How do I thank the loving people who sent the donation that will transform the community of Los Ramos? Words are not enough to simply thank someone for giving the precious gift of water to a community. For two days, I tried to call Francisco with the good news. Last night, I was finally able to reach him. When I asked him if I could go to Los Ramos next week to deliver the money, we were both sobbing over the phone. I was simultaneously filled with joy for Los Ramos and sorrow over the death of my friend, Bobby…a strange feeling.
Next week, I’ll deliver the money to Los Ramos for the transformer that will transform their lives. Think about the word play here! Francisco said, they will make a trip to Managua to buy the transformer. Hopefully, in a few weeks, they will have running water in all of their homes.
I am overwhelmed and filled with such loving compassion for everyone who made this possible. The gift of running water! Saint Teresa was right when she said, “The tree that is beside the running water is fresher and gives more fruit.” This can apply to many facets of our lives, especially to the wonderful community of people in Los Ramos. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for fulfilling a dream and providing a gift of running water to a community in need.
And, by the way, if you are wondering….Ron and I had to carry the 10 pound watermelon up the steep hill in 100 degree weather. We were drenched in sweat by the time we got to the bus stop. Waiting for the bus, we cracked open the watermelon and gorged on the refreshing fruit with everyone who was waiting at the bus stop with us. I’m a little worried about returning to Los Ramos next week. I have a feeling there will be a couple of big watermelons waiting for us.
If you want to help give the gift of water to local communities, below is a link for how you can help.