August 2012 Trip

By Stephen Berkin ’14 and Andy Munoz ’15

Our most recent trip was to La Fortuna in August 2012, consisting of five days of contact with the people of La Fortuna.  On the first day, we talked to the people to better understand what the current problems and concerns were for the project.  A community meeting was held on the first evening to identify our goals for the trip, which included:

1)  Taking samples of the water from different points along the system to identify potential problems with the filters

2)  Taking sediment samples from the springbox and several other points to identify any sedimentation issues that could cause problems for the filters, such as clogging

3)  Understanding the problems related to the purified water not reaching all houses

4)  Understanding problems of community relations and sustainability

Over the next few days, samples of both water and sediment were taken along many points on the system, including above the filters, in the filters, and below the filters.  These samples are to be used to identify the necessity for a sedimentation box and shock chlorination of the system.

The entire pipeline was walked, in order to identify any leaks in the pipeline, or any otherwise outstanding problems.  Several leaks were found, and were repaired by the community members promptly.

Community relations were built up again, since we had not been to the community in over a year, due to conflicts in Honduras.


January 2011 Trip Update

By Donovan Hayes ’12

Over winter break, Emily, Edwin, Ken, Emils and I ventured to Honduras to help build a water storage tank for the rural community of El Convento. This tank was part of a larger project to provide the community with potable running water, overseen by Engineers Without Borders, a student-led organization with Professor Joshua Smith as the advisor. We arrived in San Pedro Sula International Airport early Saturday afternoon and immediately boarded a van taxi that took us on a 2.5 hour journey to the last place we would see running water and mattresses for the following week. We spent the night there, falling asleep at 10 pm, and woke up numerous times to the sounds of roosters (apparently, they choose to send out their calls at any time they please, not just at dawn).

The next day we awoke at 6 am, and rode in a pickup truck to the town of El Convento, where we met with Washcarina and Brian (fellow Lafayette students), who had already started overseeing the construction of the water storage tank. We watched as the members of the community worked hour after hour, in an effort to provide clean water for their families and the rest of El Convento. We helped in every way we could, but understood the importance of allowing the Hondurans to build their own tank and take pride in their work. Still, we were itching to climb in the tank and be a part of this incredible project. It became our metaphor, to “get in the tank” meant to get your hands dirty, to hike up and down the mountain every morning as the sun came up, to help carry the burden with our brothers and sisters.

By the end of the week, we had grown accustomed to waking up at 6:30 in the morning, falling asleep by 8:30 in the evening, and eating rice and beans for both breakfast and dinner. We had fallen in love with the kids of the community and their gratefulness for every crayon and piggy-back ride that we gave them. We knew that we had impacted their lives, and we believed that they had impacted us even more.

August 2010 Trip

Slow Sand Filter Foundation

By Phillip Bellis ’13

As part of an ongoing water system project in the village of El Covento, 7 students and 1 mentor took part in an 8 day trip to the remote Yoro region of Honduras.  In previous trips to El Covento, surveying had been done, dams built, and pipeline laid.  The objective for the August trip was to construct the concrete slab foundation where the storage tank and slow sand filters were to be built on.

Much to the pleasure of Engineers Without Borders, the community had cleared the site before a previous trip, but upon arrival at the tank site, the August team was greeted with unlevel ground, excess vegetation, and a back slope much steeper than previously anticipated.  Though concerned at first, the students, led by mentor Emils Schnore, were quickly put at ease by the work ethic put forth by community members.  By the end of the first work day, the site was completely excavated, and though technically behind schedule, the team was not worried. Continue reading

March 2010 Trip To Honduras

EWB and Community Members During March 2010 Trip

By Rahman Rahim ’13

The mission of the project in El Convento is to provide potable water, from existing springs, to the people in the community. The trip to El Convento in March 2010 was the first implementation trip. The numerous tasks and goals (outlined below) planned for the trip were ambitious for a week long trip, however and all the tasks were completed during the given time.

1. Stimulate community involvement for the implementation project

2. Implement watershed protection for the two source areas

3. Develop a formal contract with Don Florentino (a local contractor)

4. Determine/assess the final pipeline route

5. Identify sites to construct system components such as dams, water collection boxes, tanks/ filters

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Adventures in the Honduran Jungle

March 16, 2010

By Thomas Johnson ’11

Journal Entry: 0600 hours
We woke this morning to a rooster at the break of dawn. One of our team members, Zeus, almost ensured us of a chicken dinner when he stormed out of the dorm-sized church we were staying in. But he was eluded by the clever and surprisingly agile bird. It seems dinner will again consist of beans, rice, and Honduran spaghetti.

0800 hours
We ate breakfast with coffee this morning.  Breakfast, like dinner last night and breakfast yesterday morning, consisted of rice, beans, and Honduran spaghetti.  But this morning is special because of the coffee.  The coffee is strong and even the most avid coffee-holics of the group are impressed by the kick of the exotic java.

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Students receive honorable mention at EPA sustainablity competition

May 6, 2009

By Academic News-LC

Interdisciplinary project in Honduras combines engineering and economics

A group of six students received an honorable mention for their sustainability efforts in El Convento, Honduras, at the Environmental Protection Agency’s P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) competition.

Using their work in Honduras as a model, the students are creating a sustainable development framework as a conceptual design for rural potable water infrastructure projects and integrated economic activities in developing countries. The framework can be used as a guide for other student groups performing similar sustainability projects. The EPA previously awarded the framework project a $10,000 grant.

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Student chapter of Engineers Without Borders receives national grant

December 13, 2009

By Academic News-LC

Award will support sustainable water project in El Convento, Honduras

The Lafayette student chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) has been awarded a Boeing grant through Engineers Without Borders-USA to help fund its ongoing work to bring clean water to rural Honduras.

EWB is working to build a new water system for El Convento, a poor village of about 40 families living in two-room wood and clay houses without modern conveniences. The community has been without a water system since 1998, when its previous system was destroyed by Hurricane Mitch.

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Students travel to Honduras to build sustainble water systems

July 7, 2009

By Andrew Jameson ’09

“Flight 611 now departing for San Pedro Sula.” These were the words we heard over the loudspeaker at the Houston airport on the morning of Sunday, Aug. 10. It was the start of a very exciting trip for the Lafayette College chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB).

A Tale of Two Villages

EWB Lafayette College is currently involved in building sustainable, potable water systems for two villages in Hounduras, El Convento and La Fortuna, both of which are in the Yoro district of the country. In every project, EWB Lafayette College works closely with a village and designs a water system tailored to its specific needs.

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Clean water and earthquakes in Honduras

July 6, 2009

By Michael Thompson ’12

Drinkable water is something that most Americans take for granted; it is so essential to life, yet in many countries around the world, it is something that families struggle to find. Our destinations this summer were the extremely rural villages of El Convento and La Fortuna. When the villages’ previous water systems were knocked out by blows from Hurricane Mitch, EWB Lafayette answered the call.

Our first stop was El Convento. Open arms and giant smiles were the first things we saw, soon followed by a swarm of excited children. Our first day was spent bonding with the community members (“futbol” is always a popular choice), but the remaining days were for work. We constructed barbed-wire fencing to protect the watersheds and bushwhacked a new pipeline since technical issues rendered the old route inadequate. I must stress how important the community’s enthusiasm was. We would need five volunteers and they would give us 20; it was amazing to work alongside such skilled and dedicated people.

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Easton Rotary gives grant to Lafayette’s EWB

May 20, 2009

By Academic News-LC

Funds will support sustainable water projects in Honduras

The Easton Rotary Service Foundation recently awarded a grant to Lafayette’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) to support EWB’s ongoing project to bring clean water to a small Honduran village.

EWB is working to build a new water system for El Convento, a poor, rural village of about 40 families living in two-room wood and clay houses without modern conveniences. The community has been without a water system since 1998, when its previous system was destroyed by Hurricane Mitch.

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Engineers Without Borders begins third project in Honduras this summer

June 25, 2008

By Students-LC

Students from engineering and the liberal arts will design a sustainable water system for the village of El Convento

This summer, members of Lafayette’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) representing disciplines in engineering and the liberal arts will begin developing a sustainable water system for the village of El Convento, Honduras. The group will be in Honduras from Aug. 9 – 23.

El Convento, which is located in the Yoro district of central Honduras, will be the third sustainable water project EWB students have worked on in the country since 2003. EWB has also implemented gravity-fed water systems in neighboring Lagunitas and La Fortuna. The group’s previous work garnered national media exposure for being one of six national institutions to receive a $75,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

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