Mission team brings clean water to Costa Rican village
KENT ISLAND — A team from Kent Island United Methodist Church returned from rural Costa Rica midJuly after spending a week digging trenches and gluing PVC pipe in order to turn on water at the homes of the residents of a tiny remote village near the Nicaraguan border.
“The hardest part was just getting to the village each day,” said team member Michael Phillips. “The roads were in bad condition due to the rainy season.”
Every day the team encountered washed out roads and bridges, stranded trucks blocking the road and lots of mud, traveling two to three hours one way to reach the remote villages needing clean water. Somehow the team persevered and overcame obstacles to make it there each day.
Team member Tyler Kintop, 15, of Grasonville observed, “We were determined. There were so many things thrown in our way on a daily basis and we still got it done!”
The mission team consisted of 14 local high school students and 11 adults.
Earlier this year Kent Island United Methodist Church collected money to install two deep-water wells in the remote villages in northern Costa Rica. Working through a non-profit called Agua Viva Serves they were able to have wells installed in February to bring water to this village for the first time.
Though this effort provided clean water to the villages for the first time, water still had to be carried by bucket from the well, Phillips said.
When the team from KIUMC went in July they dug trenches and installed more than 1,500 feet of pipe to the 12 homes and makeshift church in the village.
The small homes were made of reused wood and rusty tin roofs and most held large multi-generational families, Phillips said.
Many of the villagers there work mainly work in the local pineapple fields and teak forests, he added.
“Besides installing water spigots to homes, we also did programs for the children of the village, played soccer and took Polaroid photos of families since they had never had pictures taken before,” Phillips said.
He said the students were a little more appreciative of their clean showers when they got home.
Team member Alexandra Wilder, 18, and recent graduate of Kent Island High School, said, “They (the villagers) went from bathing in barrels full of dirty water to having access to clean water. That is something that will change their lives entirely. To see their smiles on their faces is something that I will never forget.”
The children of this village have reportedly been frequently ill, Phillips said, noting the remoteness and lack of transportation prohibits proper medical attention. The team hopes that the clean water will mean healthier families.
“Seeing them use the water at their disposal gave me happiness because I know I contributed to their happy and healthy lives,” said Wilder.
Even though the team was only in the country for one week, and spent much of their time making their way traveling the difficult roads, their trip still accomplished a lot.
“The first day we brought over a dozen shovels to the village and started digging. The villagers were shy at first, but when we returned the second day the whole village was out digging with vigor. It was truly touching,” Phillips said.
The team was also touched by the relationships formed, and affected by the spirit of the community, he added.
When the trip was nearing completing, Wilder told Phillips, “The hardest part was leaving the kids that I built a relationship with at the village.”
Tyler said he didn’t think at first the villagers realized what a difference clean water was going to make for them because they were used to doing without for so long.
“I’m going to remember how much fun that they [the villagers] could have. I admire how much they appreciated what little they had. We complain about stuff that they would dream to have,” Tyler said.
Kent Island Mission Team with villagers in Costa Rica.
From left, Will Moulden, Breezy Skeens, Miranda Kinnoman and Kevin Kintop work together to connect PVC pipe to run clean water to a Costa Rican village.
Team members in Costa Rica travel miles of muddy roads to reach their destination. From back left, Michael Phillips, Preston Wilder, Sutter Phillips, Alexandra Wilder, Kevin Kintop, Jackon Cranford, Tyler Kintop, Beau Wilder and Brad Bazzell.