About two and a half hours from Chiang Mai by four-wheeler and a very long, steep hike there’s a poor village, slowly dying of thirst. Some months there’s plenty of rain, but no reliable supply of clean water for drinking and cooking. Vin’s crew dug temporary ditches halfway up the mountain, lining them with black plastic to collect and hold the rain. They ran PVC pipes to a spigot in the village. The quick fix was good for a few weeks while the plastic held, but a permanent solution was needed.
Next Vin and his friends organized college students, held meetings in Vin’s house, borrowed vehicles, and chipped in for gas and expenses. This time 25 people went to the mountain and battled mud, mosquitos and fatigue as they climbed to the summit. They surveyed the spot and made a plan: they’d build four concrete reservoirs, 15 feet square and 5 feet high, near the mountain top, to capture and hold the rain. The PCV network would be expanded and provide year-round water to the village below.
Since then, the volunteer army has expanded from 5 to 60. The job is on hold until January, because they don’t have money for concrete and other supplies. They are willing, though, and know that they and the villagers will carry every sack of concrete up the steep mountainside on their backs.
Between now and January, they’ll approach companies, government agencies, and even the Thai military for help. If they’re lucky, there will be donations, but the vast majority of funding for past, similar projects has come by private donations from the volunteers themselves and their friends and families.
If you want to help, you have to know that this is an entirely volunteer, grass-roots initiative with no agency supervision, no tax deduction, and no guarantee that the money will go where they say it will. But I can tell you that over the years, every penny and every baht has gone directly to the projects that help the poor to help themselves. For more information in English, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.