A neighborhood wanted us to run water to a large part of Itzapa that had no water. People there wanted water without having to walk so far to get it. Joseph Perkins and some other people at the camp were involved in that. I got it okayed because the Water Municipality of San Andrés Itzapa, the people in charge of supplying water, didn’t want to do it at first. They did not want to give these people water if there was not enough water to give them.
It was a very political thing. It was not something that you could just, out of the goodness of your heart, say, “Okay, we’ll give these people water.” It had to get hashed out between the Municipality and people in the town. Finally they said, “Okay. There is a one-inch valve coming out of the reservoir. We’ll let you have a one-inch pipe to feed this area.” We came out of the reservoir with the one-inch pipe and then we increased it to a two-inch pipe because that would provide a reservoir of water inside the piping.
We ran that pipe with a crew of men from the neighborhood, who were very excited about getting water. We started out on a Monday and made good time. We were digging trenches, laying the pipe, and burying it as we went along. It was quite a long run to the feed.
To get to this part of town we had to go through a graveyard. We started digging, trying to miss all the markers. There was a lot of superstitious stuff about going through the graveyard. Sorting that out took us a bit longer — two or three days. Some people said, “You are going to disturb the dead. We don’t want you to do that.” People from the Municipality and the neighborhood explained, “But we have to get this pipe through the graveyard. We are only doing it because we have to.” They were our spokespeople because we really could not say. We were just trying to help. The people who were complaining didn’t have any power to stop us. The local people guided us through this saying, “It’s okay. Let’s just keep digging and it will be okay.”
It was quite a job, a lot of work, but we got through the graveyard. We were so happy. Then the line had to go under a low road that paralleled the graveyard. We filled in the road and poured cement around the pipe, otherwise rains loosen the road so badly that the pipe could come out of the ground. We got the pipe under the road, stubbed it off with some fittings, and that is where we left it.
While we were working our way through the graveyard a bunch of men had gone ahead and dug another six hundred feet of ditches for the next run of pipe — all the way to a vacant lot where the line was going to end and we were installing a faucet.
The next morning I was expecting a huge crew of men to help get the pipe laid and glued all the way to the faucet. But when I showed up there was only one man there — and he had a terrible hangover because he drank too much the night before. But he was willing to help me. Between the two of us, we glued six hundred feet of pipe, got the spigot in, staked it to the ground, and stubbed it up. The rest of the neighborhood came in over the next few days and covered the pipe with dirt. We turned the water on and everything was okay. There were no leaks. The weekend had arrived and the women and girls did not have to go so far to bring water to their families.
On Monday morning I came to look over everything and see that it was okay. Amazing. The ladies from the neighborhood had hung a huge garland of flowers on the faucet. It was so heartfelt it made me cry.