A group of schoolchildren spent their summer holidays trekking through the Amazon to reach a remote Peruvian village and install a tank that would provide fresh drinking water for the locals for the first time.
Nine pupils from Lewes Old Grammar School travelled to Iquitos, a jungle metropolis in the northern Amazon basin, which can only be reached by air or sea and then by boat to reach a remote island which is home to just 100 people.
The pupils had raised £10,000 in sponsorship to pay for the materials and costs of the water tank and, with the help of the school’s bursar and former quantity surveyor Tim Laker, they set about the task. The trip was organised by the Really Wild expedition company.
Explained Mr Laker: “The goal was to bring something to the people here that they had never had in all the generations of people living on this island: clean water. There was no rule book, no blueprints. We had to engineer the entire making of this from scratch. And this was no small project. The village representative consulted with us and decided that they wanted a single water tower for 5000 litres of water. Building a water tower is one thing but constructing a platform on Amazonian sediment to support over five tonnes of water is another. After unloading a boat of 2,100 clay brinks that we had sent down from Iquitos and carting them 1.7km through the jungle – plus over 1.2 tons of dry cement – we were totally exhausted… and ready to begin!”
“All of that was before we were shown a hole in the ground off the beaten trail in the jungle through the mud and mosquitoes from where we were to haul sand back to the village. The students did it with such strength and determination that I was really proud of them. They didn’t stop there either. Straight after that, they spent two days mixing 5.5 cubic metres of cement with shovels and spades to build a platform strong enough to hold the 5 tons of water that needed to be supported on top.”
He added: “By the end of the task, two groups of entirely different people from the furthest parts of the globe had come together wonderfully to work on a project. And for the first time in the village’s history, there was clean water. The LOGS students were determined to make the project a success and they did. They learned so much and all said what an incredible experience it was.”
LOGS student Ella Prior said: “It was a huge privilege to be able to get involved in a project like this and feel like you have made a tangible difference to a group of people whom I would never have come into contact with normally. We were honoured to be welcomed into their village and it felt great to work all together as a team.”