Nico Reflects on Time With Abundant Water in Laos

Image 1: Left to right: Abundant Water trainee, Joanico Da Silva, Second Secretary of the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Nilton Saad, Abundant Water WASH Program Officer, Thomas O’Malley and Abundant Water Program Manager, Keith Wingeard.

Image 1: Left to right: Abundant Water trainee, Joanico Da Silva, Second Secretary of the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Nilton Saad, Abundant Water WASH Program Officer, Thomas O’Malley and Abundant Water Program Manager, Keith Wingeard.

Abundant Water is preparing to start a new chapter of its story in Timor-Leste. Over past weeks A Timor-Leste local - Joanico De Silva, or Nico as his friends call him, has been training with our team in Laos. This training will equip him with the skills he needs to work with Abundant Water and bring our social business and water filter technology to his home country, Timor-Leste. Now about halfway through his training Nico has reflected on his time with in Laos with our team and we wanted to share that with you.

“My name is Joanico Da Silva, my family and all friends always call me Nico, I was born on the Island of Sleeping Crocodile called Timor-Leste. In a small sub-village namely Mota-Ulun (The Head of the River) in Dili, Timor-Leste. I have been involved in community activities since graduating from senior high school. I have been involved in various programs including volunteer teaching basic English to youth and working with the community to organise the repatriation  of internally displaced people to sub-villages following the political and military crisis in 2006. I was very lucky to be chosen among hundreds of youths in my sub-village to be able to obtain a Masters degree in Public Administration with a focus on National Development and Leadership.

I am so impressed with the internship program provided by Abundant Water. It has been a great opportunity to discover and obtain new exciting experiences and knowledge particularly with regard to the Abundant Water filter system. I see it will be applicable for the community in the remotes areas of Timor-Leste and give them much needed access to clean and safe drinking water.

An unforgettable and historic moment for me was the first day at Abundant Water`s office. I started to read the vision and values of Abundant Water, and  it really touched my heart, at that moment I made the promise to myself that I would make the most of this wonderful opportunity and learn and discover as many things as I could. This will ensure when I return home I will be able to implement Abundant Water’s program in the community of Timor-Leste.

I had fantastic time visiting Abundant Water’s workshop and saw firsthand the production of the ceramic water filter system by the brilliant Lao local staff. It was challenging trying to communicate with them with the limited of Lao language I have, but it was a very exciting opportunity. I look forward to producing Abundant Water’s filters in Timor-Leste in the future. Timor will suit the Abundant Water process well because it has plentiful resources of clay and coffee grounds, the basic ingredients of the water filters. All my community needs is proper training and guidance, which I am currently learning.

I am glad to see the Abundant Water staff hold a regular meeting every Friday. It was really great to see staff and interns enthusiastically expressing their suggestions and contributions as well as updating the whole team on the progress of their activities. I like the model that Abundant Water uses for the staff meetings and like that the meeting can be held at the Abundant Water office or in the workshop.

I was curious about the Abundant Water connection with JOMA (Coffee Restaurant) which provides free coffee grounds to Abundant Water to produce water filters. I went to JOMA coffee with Tom and Keith a few times to collect the coffee grounds. I was interested to see that the coffee grounds which have value in Timor-Leste, has no value in Laos, with many people throwing it away in the rubbish bin.

Another positive experience I have had in my time at Abundant Water has been learning the Water Flow testing from Tom. This is a very important skill for me to learn as back in Timor-Leste I will have to use the testing to insure the water produced by our filters is clean and safe to drink. Given how important this process is in delivering clean water, this is an area I am keen to learn more about in the future.

I have learned a lot from the team who have provided me some other great opportunities to get hands on experience. I felt very proud when I installed the Abundant Water filter system at Timor-Leste`s Embassy and the Residence of Ambassador in Laos. I really appreciated when Keith organized a field trip to Xieng Khuaong Province in the Mok district to distribute and install water filters to communities there. It was so exciting and valuable as I gained a lot of impressive experience and demonstrated some of my capacity to the Abundant Water staff. As part of the trip I learned how to prepare the materials before distributing and installing to the community. This included helping Keith to drill and clean 90 buckets. Following drilling you have to wash and dry them. In all the process took 10 hours to complete but it worth certainly worth it.

I would like to thank Keith who has been good at teaching me about the financial management. This is a particularly useful skill and important for me in my capacity as  program manager in Timor-Leste. I am also learning the process of allocating money and managing expenditure.

All of this just half way through my training program at Abundant Water in Laos. I still have a few  more weeks here and I am looking forward to getting more valuable and wonderful experiences, knowledge and skills that will assist me in Abundant Water’s program implementation in Timor-Leste”.

Nico

Image 2: Abundant Water’s Timorese trainee Joanico Da Silva installing an Abundant Water at the residence of the Ambassador of the Timor-Leste Embassy in Vientiane, Natália Carrascalão.

Image 2: Abundant Water’s Timorese trainee Joanico Da Silva installing an Abundant Water at the residence of the Ambassador of the Timor-Leste Embassy in Vientiane, Natália Carrascalão.