For all the simplicity of problem like a lack of access to clean water, the complications of connecting a rural community in a developing nation to a reliable source are seemingly endless. But for all the logistical, financial, and practical difficulties along the way, when a dedicated group of people set their minds to finding a solution, snags are smoothed, knots are untied, and success is guaranteed.

For all the complications in the process of problem-solving, leaving the issue unaddressed promised even more numerous and nagging stresses for the lives of 63 families living in the northern part of Villa Corazon, Philippines. Besides the ever-present threat of water-borne illnesses, community members had to spend time and money traveling to the collect their daily supply of water, which was a drain on finances from both ends, eating into hours that could be used to earn an income, and eating into the wages already earned to pay for gasoline, in order to make the process a little less time-consuming.

Philippines | Water System

Villa Corazon community partners pose with members of Outreach’s HQ staff during the celebration of the water system’s first phase.

Members of the Outreach-affiliated Villa Corazon community identified the implementation of a water system (a large-capacity tank, heavy duty pump, basins to collect water, and pipes to connect everything below ground to those above) as a high-priority goal. Working alongside Outreach Philippines team members, using funding from the successful partnership between Dial and Outreach from Global Handwashing Day 2016, they got busy making things complicated in the best possible way.

With professional drill operators manning the controls, community partners helped out with every other aspect of implementing the water system, from fetching water to keep the drill bits cool, to preparing meals for workers, to contributing money to pay for snacks and refreshments along the way. But this story isn’t about the process, it’s about the outcome.

“The success of this project was a product of passion and ‘bayanihan,'” says Leonardo, a resident, using a Tagalog word to describe the Filipino value of working together for free.

When Villa Corazon residents toast another successful, sustainable milestone in their community’s development, they do so with a level of introspection uncommon in most traditional celebration. It’s a function of their experience as a group of people with a shared mission, as well as something a little harder to define (at least in English).

“The success of this project was a product of passion and ‘bayanihan,'” says Leonardo, a resident, using a Tagalog word for to describe the Filipino value of working together for free.

Community members assessed the benefits: 72 households no longer have to devote time and money each day to travel for water. Local leadership gained experience in managing large-scale projects and sharpened their resolve in negotiating with vendors for material costs, making them more confident in establishing future projects to resolve other issues present in their village. Everyone involved acknowledged a deepening of their respective self-worth, heartened that their hard work resulted in something so transformative for their community.

Philippines | Water Systems

Director of Field Operations, Andrea Read, cuts the ribbon to get the fun flowing.

There’s plenty more work to come to shepherd the project from well-done to a done well, but the end is in sight, projected to arrive in a few months, after a little more digging, drillin, and spot-welding. Where community members were once continually jumping over hurdles, they now float above the fray, with the perspective to clearly see their goal.

Marvin, another Villa Corazon resident, echoes this sentiment, but in true Villa Corazon fashion, does so with more insight, clarity, and efficiency than one might use in, say, a blog post about the triumph: “In the implementation of this project, I learned two things: To be patient with projects and people, and to complete all important activities and requirements to ensure the success of the project.” Sustainable solutions demand as much as they provide.

Philippines | Water System

Community members give us one of our favorite moments in the history of Outreach as they fill their first bucket with clean water from the new system.

Thanks to the amazing work of Villa Corazon residents, the Outreach Philippines team members, and the generous support of Dial, the thirst for transformative change has quelled– though it’ll never be slaked.