FEBRUARY 7, 2017, Tuesday
Yesterday was Feb. 6 and I received a text message from Jennifer Mullally dated Jan. 7.
Better late than never.
We heard the Columbus Branch received a new Branch President. Personally, I am
sorry to see President Shaw leave and just as sorry to see Sister Shaw leave. I have
thoroughly enjoyed them.
Brother Thomas came to us yesterday, late afternoon, and told us that there is a
problem at the South Ridge project site. This is a site where we are going to build a
catchment box and pipe the water down to a spring box where there is going to be two
10,000 Liter Milla tanks to pump water into. This would provide approximately 40,000
people with clean drinking water daily even in the dry season. We have been working
on this project since November getting all the paperwork completed and submitted to
SLC for approval. We received approval yesterday morning. Brother Thomas told us
that someone was drilling a hand-dug borehole on the site we are planning on doing
this water project. Don came unglued and called the community secretary and told him
he wanted to have a meeting this morning at the site to see what is really happening.
He told Paul, the secretary, if it is true than he has lost his trust and will not do any
project at all for south ridge. Paul did not know what Don was talking about and said he
would talk to the Chairman and get back to him in a few minutes. Which he did.
Neither he nor the Chairman knew what Don was talking about. Don called Michael
Ropeiki, the man who we have worked with before who has a team that drills hand-dug
boreholes. Michael said he had a crew over in that area but they were at the top of the
mountain. He agreed to meet us this morning at the top of the mountain. He called 10
minutes before we were to meet and asked us to push the meeting off for an hour. We
did not. Everyone was there except Michael and we went down the mountain. Sure
enough, there was a crew there and they had torn up the spring's opening and were
drilling. The Chairman and the Secretary were livid. They demanded to know who
authorized them to do this. We learned that the tribal chief (who has attended at least
6 meetings with us and has agreed to and has signed papers with us to do this huge
water project) accepted a bribe from a man who works for the American Embassy and
makes his money by arranging successful projects. This man hired Michael's crew to do
a hand-dug borehole. Michael's company will drill 2 holes and if they can't get water,
then you have to pay them for their work anyway. They drilled 2 holes and hit rock and
could not get to water so were going to pull out. The man from the Embassy went to
the tribal chief and bribed him to let Michael's crew put in a borehole where they were
guaranteed to find water. Don called Michael and he had no idea that his crew had
moved down the mountain. The Chairman and the Secretary were extremely angry and
I don't think I will ever forget the words and the look on the face of the Secretary "we
have been betrayed!" The people of the community that knows the depth of our
project was also very angry. Don told them we are done with South Ridge and we will
take our money and help people in other communities. We have 31 requests for help
so it will not be difficult to find a replacement project. It is just disheartening to lose an
opportunity to bring so many people clean drinking water and to lose 4 months of
work. Brother thomas and Samuel, our contractor, came back to the office with us and
we went through the 31 potential projects and we chose 5. These are smaller projects.
Don has my cold. He is miserable.