The Norwich team worked with an interpreter who spoke Imar—the language on this part of the Bolivian altiplana—to learn from village elders of the pressing need for drinking water and potential sources. “It was a revelation,” said Wight. “Their needs were so basic compared to what I had anticipated.”
Equally revealing, he said, was the work by Norwich students Markowski and Seifert. “To see them scratching their heads and thinking about, ‘What are the options for getting water here and how can the villagers help make that happen?’ and interfacing with them on that level was very exciting,” said Wight.
Having taken water samples, surveyed the area with GPS technology and created preliminary designs, the Norwich EWB chapter members expect the project to take about two years. The next step is fundraising—to be done on a grassroots level by team members for travel expenses, as well as on a municipal level by the Bolivians. They will return to Patapatani in May to present a polished design to the town’s water commission. A larger group of students will build the system using local materials and designs easily copied by other villages. continue