Global Brigades at Drexel University

El Junquillo is a community of about 500 people in southern Honduras. It is an extremely dry environment with temperatures that can reach up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit and access to clean and safe water is very limited. Most families make their living by farming and agriculture and feed their families with about 2$ to 3$ a day. It is a community in need of development, but a beautiful community none the less who opened its arms to Drexel’s first water brigade under Global Brigades at Drexel University. This trip has touched all those who were part of this amazing experience and there will forever be a bond between Drexel and El Junquillo.

On this brigade, we worked along side the community members, the Global Brigades staff, and other schools such as UC San Diego and Irvine as well as Williams College. We all worked together to dig trenches and laid down miles upon miles of piping. It was extremely hard work, especially with the high temperatures. Despite the circumstances, all the students shoveled and pickaxed without complaint. The community members would later join the students to work on the water system when their own work, such as farming, was done. The Hondurans obviously had more skill with digging than any of the students, but it was a beautiful sight to see everyone working together side by side.

Many students questioned why they were doing this kind of work after the first day of digging. It made sense because many students were frustrated with the difficult and tiring work. We had seen the community’s water source and even seen a few of the wells the families have built to sustain themselves, but this still wasn’t enough to satisfy the need to understand why we subjected ourselves to pickaxe rock for a week. Every day we would shovel rocks and lay down pipe, which would be just one part of the extensive system that El Junqillo will have in about a month or so. We were exhausted and trying to adjust to the heat was basically a nightmare since it was so hot. One meeting with the Water Committee and the Basic Sanitation Committee changed everyone’s perspectives about what we were doing.

One day after digging, all the students met with the Water Committee and Basic Sanitation Committee. They spoke about water, community needs, and about us- the students. They said, “ Without you, this is not possible. We have dreamed all our lives to turn on a faucet and now this dream is a reality all thanks to you.” The community was so welcoming and happy to have us there and to be helping them achieve a dream that would forever impact the future generations of all those who lived there. It was a heartwarming moment and for sure many students will never forget it.

This 7 day experience can’t be summed up in 300-500 words. It was one of the most eye opening and wonderful opportunities to have come along and we are very happy that OIP has helped us there. The people we have met and work we have done will always be a part of us as we are with all those who have helped us along our journey. The staff and the members opened their hearts to us by teaching us Spanish, working the trenches, and teaching us about their culture, and just so much more. We all have learned so much but one definite thing is that we helped a community move one step closer to achieve their dreams, and with knowing that, we all will be moving forward and working hard towards our dreams too.