Last Sunday I was invited to the dedication of a water project in Ochomogo, a remote community located along the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. It struck me that there were many parallels between this water project in 2017 and the railway project in Canada 130 years earlier. Ochomogo is a relatively small community of some 70 homes with a population of about 400 people who drink contaminated water that must be hauled over many kilometers. The families dreamed of having water piped to their homes.
Our partner on the ground, the St. Luke Foundation, began dreaming with the community. Together, they devised a plan to drill a well, pumping the water to a central tank by solar power, then distributing the water through a system of water lines to the houses. The community would be involved in all parts of the construction, especially in digging the three-foot-deep trenches that would stretch for five kilometers. In addition, each home would contribute the equivalent of $65 toward the cost of the pipes and the home water meter. In the cash-strapped economy of rural Nicaragua, capital is not easy to pull together and even $65 can seem like an insurmountable goal. To accompany the families’ contributions, the balance of the cost of the project would be funded by five Christian Reformed church groups that worked alongside the Ochomogo community. For the families in Ochomogo, this water project was likely just as daunting as building the Canadian railroad.
And yet, a year and a half later, I found myself at the dedication of the project, completed on schedule. As the representative of World Renew, they included me as one of the ribbon cutters, or shall I say “dignitaries.” The community of Ochomogo made it clear that they dedicated the water project to God, who they recognized as having blessed them with this resource. But I was also in awe of this dedicated community that invested their own sweat, digging the ditches through rocky ground and scrambling to come up with the financial contribution. As the pump was activated, it shot out a gush of water, and the the euphoria that erupted was surely the same as when a final railroad spike was pounded into the ground so many years earlier on another continent.
World Renew Nicaragua