Bocas de Toro, Panama:
Helping to get clean drinkable water to the remote islands in the Caribbean was another adventure. To install the water catchment system only required a small puddle jumper plane ride, followed by a small boat ride across the Caribbean waters to reach the island where we were going to be staying. We referred to the island as "Gilligan's Island". The floor of the island was made of coconut tree roots intertwined. David and Joellen Jeffer started this project and moved here three years ago. They built their house out over the sea. It is a beautiful desolate island with only the Jeffer's home, a building for missionaries to stay, a house for the minister and a covered place to worship.

Meeting with four fellow parishioners from the Decorah Lutheran Church, our task was to install water catchment systems. These systems would help prevent Malaria as the natives could now collect fresh rain water versus having to obtain water from puddles, etc which were infested with water borne illness. The concept of the water catchment systems is quite simple. PVC pipe is placed along the edge of the roof. The water runs down the roof and into the piping. It then travels down the piping and into a 500 gallon tank. A little bleach is added to the water to purify it. It is then ready for drinking. These were funded through the Decorah Lutheran Church and the Decorah Rotary Club.

The biggest challenge was getting the needed equipment to the natives' homes. Everything had to be transported to the other islands by smaller boats, even the 500 gallon tank, ladders and the PVC piping. Once we reached the selected island we had to carry everything through the jungle to our destination. Sometimes it was very difficult to get the tank through trees that only provided a narrow opening. Through determination and lots of sweat we were able to reach the houses and the installations proceeded without many problems. Though this was a gift to the natives, they provided a priceless gift in return...their gratitude. They were so happy and proud. One lady yelled to another, "Look, I have a water tank!" Another great ongoing project in action.


To see more photos from Bocas de Toro,
click here.