Over many years, Pampoyo had been marginalized by mining facilities in the area that disposed of their waste materials in the nearby stream. As this contaminated water flowed downstream to Pampoyo, the community members saw much of their crops and animals die, their people become ill and many left the area. Since 2010, Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute’s Engineers Without Borders has been active in the community, creating a strong and positive relationship.
Our projects in Pampoyo, consisting of two 1.5-mile catchment and diversion pipeline systems, have transformed the area by dramatically improving both accessibility and quality of water available to Pampoyo. It is estimated that these projects have also increased the amount of arable land in the area by 400%.
Our upcoming projects in the area for June 2014 will be the construction of 12-16 eco-latrines dispersed throughout the community. These eco-latrines benefit the community two-fold. The first is by improving sanitation in Pampoyo through the provision of latrines. The second is the unique technology of these eco-latrines that converts bio waste and compostable items into organic fertilizer via solar energy that sanitizes the mixture at the same time.
In addition to our engineering and health projects in the area, we founded The Pampoyo Women’s Knitting Cooperative in 2012. Our goal was to further improve conditions in the community by helping raise the economic status of the women community members. These ladies knit 100% llama wool hats, scarves and gloves embedded with the Washington and Lee University logo, the trident. We sell them on campus, and all of the proceeds from our sales go directly back to the women in the knitting cooperative. Our first year was hugely successful, bringing in around $3,000 in profits that doubled the annual income of each lady in the knitting cooperative. For fall 2013, we have surpassed last year’s profits and have even partnered with the university bookstore, which has drastically increased the market size for the ladies’ products. From last year’s profits, the ladies have been able to afford different colored dyes for their products, new looms, and most importantly, improved living standards.