Sunday, May 31, 2020
Digging Dirt to Change a Village
The drilling crew, which included John Dimant, Jim Reid, Deb Dimant, Mary Ann Crowdson, Lois and Bart Adrian and Mark Inouye, still had enough energy to clown around after a triple digit day with humidity approaching triple digits.
Sunday, October 6, 2019


Two years ago, Jim and Tedde Reid waved goodbye to the food service buying, marketing and training business they’d founded 30 years earlier.

They moved to Sun Valley fulltime with the goal of serving the poor and vulnerable in between lectures at the Community Library and other cultural indulgences.

It wasn’t long before they enlisted nine fellow church members of the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood into braving 107-degree temperatures with 97 percent humidity to build a safe water well in Guatemala.

Youngsters quickly found their way to the cool, clean water coming out of the PVC Pipe.

The project was under the umbrella of Living Waters International, a Texas-based organization that has instigated 20,000-plus such projects providing clean drinking water to six million people in 25 countries around the world, including Kenya, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Uganda, Haiti, Liberia and Mexico.

“We had raised $10,000 to build a well in Zambia for a project like this. This time we provided the hands,” said Senior Pastor Mark Inouye. “The heat was miserable, but it was a great feeling being able to provide food, water and sanitation.”

Inouye was accompanied by his wife Beth, Drs. Bart and Lois Adrian, Mary Ann Crowdson, John and Deb Dimant, Carol Shephard, Jane Springman and the Reids as they drove four hours from Guatemala City to Santa Isabel.

There they found 260 villagers, who subsist on small plots of land on which they grow mangoes, bananas, sugar cane and a few cows. They live in cinderblock homes and shacks with tin roofs and dirt yards.

Tedde Reid tries her hand at the pump as her husband Jim looks on.

Many children attend school for only six grades. There are no textbooks and few Crayons. A few entrepreneurs make a living selling toiletries out of a small display case, repairing bicycles and motorcycles or making corn tortillas and bread.

“It was clear the people were less healthy than they could be,” Tedde Reid said, alluding to waterborne illnesses such as diarrhea, typhoid, cholera and dysentery. “it was our hope to change that.”

While the villagers cooked meals of cassava, rice and beans outside, they fed chicken to their American guests.  The group from Sun Valley was put up at a hotel with cold showers.

“It would not even be considered a one-star hotel,” Jim Reid said.

The Church of the Big Wood group didn’t have to look far for a thank you.

Part of the team drilled and built the well with the help of six members of the Guatemalan Army. The others went to work teaching villagers about germs, disease transmission and proper use of the latrine.

“I don’t do dirt very well so I taught classes to the Moms and their children,” said Tedde Reid.

Most of those working on the well had no previous experience. When one woman didn’t turn the water off at just the right moment, the crew got showered with mud.

“It was so hot and we were already so dirty we didn’t mind,” said Inouye. “It was amazing to see everyone work as a team. These were doctors and other people who had been successful in their careers. And a lot of times in these cases everyone wants to be a leader. But here everyone came together just wanting to know what they could do to lend a hand.”

First row: Tedde Reid, Lois Adrian, Deb Dimant, Mary Ann Crowdson, Beth Inouye and Christy Riffe; Second row: Carol Shephard, Jane Springman, Bart Adrian, John Dimant and Mark Inouye. Wearing the hard hat: jim Reid.

The well crew spent nearly three days digging through shale and rock with the help of a diesel engine hydraulic drilling rig. They assembled the pump and affixed a small marker noting: Water for Life in Jesus name donated by Living Water International and the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood.

Meanwhile, Tedde Ried’s crew taught villagers how and when to wash their hands with the help of little ditties that would help them remember. They taught them how to sneeze into their elbow and how to use clean water when changing a baby and preparing food.

And they acquainted them with oral rehydrating mixes made of water, salt and sugar to combat the prevalence of diarrhea among babies.

“They were so excited to get soap,” recounted Tedde Reid. “We even taught them how they’re passing germs even when washing, if the water is dirty to begin with.”

The Reids have been involved with more than a dozen projects like this. They even worked in Zambia at the beginning of the AIDS crisis.

There they helped people in the last weeks of their lives, able to care for them with nothing but aspirin. They helped secure an ambulance after watching people take loved ones to the medical clinic in wheelbarrows or over their shoulders.

They helped build a medical facility so women didn’t have to give birth in the fields. And they taught mothers how to avoid passing on HIV to their babies, while providing medications that would help the villagers there survive.

It’s the Sun Valley team’s hope that providing clean water to the town of San Isabella will change the people there for generations to come. In many communities it can be an hour or more to walk for water each day—a walk that often interferes with kids attending school or adults having the opportunity to run small businesses, such as brick making.

“Our hope is that having clean water will lead to healthy children who can continue with schooling to break the cycle of poverty,” said Jim Reid.

Of course, there was a bonus in it for the Sun Valley bunch, Inouye said:

“It was an opportunity to spend time with our fellow church members, to get to know each other, to talk about faith, what motivates us. And it was a wonderful opportunity to do something as a group that was truly meaningful.”


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