I don't tell you about work very often because it all seems so routine. Meetings, emails, text messages, phone calls, meetings, texts, ad infinitum. We're having fun, getting lots of water filters to lots of people—for those counting at home, our current count is 1500 filters, 25,000 beneficiaries since our start 13 months ago. My particular job is just to keep growing this thing and find as many partners as I can. It's a great job, and I love it, but it doesn't make for gripping narrative. This week, however, was a little out of the ordinary, so I thought I'd tell you about it.
On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of bringing my family to work with me. I have been working to develop a partnership with a local organization called Catholic Relief Services (CRS). They are doing some great work with farmers in the province of Bukidnon, developing water storage tanks that assist with irrigation. They are eager to work with Impact Nations, so that the water collected in their reservoirs can also be turned into safe drinking water. This week they were having a big ceremony to officially launch their efforts in the province, and they invited Impact Nations to be a part of the festivities. It was a two day affair, which would normally rule out my participation (over night absences aren't exactly practical, given our current lifestyle), but CRS invited my wife to join us.
Early Tuesday morning, Bethany and Promise and I hopped in the truck and headed out to the shop where Jun and Toti loaded up a couple of filters. From there, we all started out for the city of Impasugong, Bukidnon. The drive is about 5.5 hours through some beautiful mountain country. Jun and I sat in the back of the truck, while Bethany held Promise in the front where Toti was driving. I enjoyed reading War and Peace while stretched out over two filters and a bunch of gear, but I got a righteous sunburn, reminding me that I spend way too much time inside these days.
Tuesday afternoon was spent in the typical fashion. We stood around for long stretches of time, trying to decipher where we were to be and when. I was supposed to have a sit down with the mayor of Impasugong, but that was canceled. In the end, we spent several hours in the local gymnasium, which was serving as the venue for the event. We were able to set up a table with our brochures, and my computer which played a slide show explaining how the filter functions. We also installed a filter for demonstration purposes.
After we had set up our booth (and figured out that the meeting with the mayor was canceled) we headed in the direction of the hotel, which was a 45 minute drive away from the venue. I think we finally checked in at around 4:30pm, which means Promise hadn't had a nice place to relax since we left the house ten hours prior. Would you believe that she didn't really fuss during that ten hour period? She's a pretty awesome little girl. Good traveler.
I was disappointed that my meeting with the mayor was canceled, but it was nice to have the rest of the day off. We relaxed in our hotel room for a while, then I joined Toti and Jun for a nice dinner at Jollibee, which serves as McDonald's Filipino competitor. Bethany stayed at the hotel with Promise, waiting to see what treats would return from the exotic Jollibee.
On Wednesday we checked out of the hotel by 7am and made our way back to the gym; but not before another stop at Jollibee for a breakfast of chicken and rice. Upon arriving at the gym we discovered that the Jollibee repeat was unnecessary, as there was a full breakfast spread for all the visitors. It's really hard to tell a Filipino that you're not hungry, so it was inevitable that we would be eating a second breakfast.
I'm giving you way more detail than you need. This is boring. Ok, I'll cut to the chase. Bethany and Promise hung out in bleachers behind our little booth, which worked out pretty well, because a white baby in Bukidnon is about as rare as an AIG executive in an unemployment line. So if the Bio-Sand Water Filter didn't draw people into our sphere of influence, the Lady Bird was sure to do the trick.
The event was attended by over 200 barangay captains, and several mayors from around the province. While they were mostly there to learn of CRS's agriculture and irrigation efforts, many showed an interest in our project. I had an opportunity to make a presentation to a large group, including some representatives from the US Department of Agriculture. We were mainly there to raise awareness and hopefully make a few new contacts—I'm always looking to expand our network. I'm not sure how successful we were, but I know that our relationship with CRS was strengthened. Some of their engineers will be receiving our full training package in April.
We packed up by 2:30 on Wednesday afternoon and hit the road again. Bethany opted to sit in the now very spacious rear of the truck (minus two filters, which had been installed at a CRS facility), while I sat with Toti and talked about work too much for too many hours. Once again, Promise was amazing, and didn't really fuss until the last hour and a half of the drive, which finally concluded around 8pm.
It was great to have my family with me for the trip. I had fun holding the Bird while explaining the filter to curious onlookers. Bethany and I were encouraged by Promise's contentment whilst traveling. Hopefully she likes planes as much as she enjoys little red trucks.
Today was a little out of the ordinary for me too, but I think I'll save that story for another day. For now, I will leave you with a bunch of snapshots from our little journey. I think they are all self-explanatory. As per usual, click on an image to see the full size.