Field Note #77: Life Around the Pumps


The mornings in the community of Dahpne Munal are sunny, but not hot. We wear jackets in the morning, but as soon as we start working, they come off. Soon, we begin to sweat from the effort. Community kids are awake and running around, but they start to gather in a group, watching us. When we take a break, they grab for our phones and start taking selfies. Mothers are sweeping, or doing their daughters’ hair or holding their babies.  

To dig a tube well in Nepal, you are either physically lifting or hammering in the pipe, or you are siphoning muddy water using a large bamboo lever and your palm as a seal. It’s pure physical labor, with some technique needed to siphon properly. There’s something simple and basic about just using your own hands and body to accomplish something. Getting muddy with the dirt and cow dung (used in sludge drilling) puts us in touch with the earth from which we are getting water. The day gets warmer, and the pipe finally hits the rock. We know we’re close to finding clean, abundant water for this community.

A couple of the completed wells still need to be painted with the logo and date. Dana, who has been doing the painting, gathers supplies, and we take a walk through the community we’d gotten to know over the last couple of days. As we walk along the dirt paths from well to well, we find that all of them are being used! At one, a girl bathes, wrapped in a towel. At another, a mother and daughter are busy washing dishes. At the first well we had completed, Goma has her sewing machine set up nearby, and laundry is drying on a line. She happily poses for us before getting back to work. Life is happening all around the water pumps! For now, the logo painting can wait.