Our New "Iron Giraffe": WFSS Finalizes Drilling Rig Purchase

Funding a new “Iron Giraffe” to replace our tired drilling rig was at the forefront of WFSS’s Watering the Seeds of Change Capital Campaign, which raised $1.2 million for the drilling rig and other needed vehicles and drilling equipment and for technical training for our staff in South Sudan. The estimated cost of the drilling rig was $500,000. Through the Iron Giraffe Challenge, students across the world raised $511,166 for the new drilling rig – an astounding 42 percent of all campaign funds.

With the funding secured, WFSS’s operations team began their due diligence to find the drilling rig best suited to our needs at the best cost. The team worked tirelessly – working with our drilling team to pinpoint what is needed in a new rig, attending conferences to learn about the latest technology, and talking with drilling rig manufacturers about specs. PAT-drill was ultimately chosen as the vendor.

 Meet our new “Iron Giraffe” – the PAT-drill 501.

Meet our new “Iron Giraffe” – the PAT-drill 501.

Promotion of appropriate technology (PAT) is PAT-drill’s mission. They were very knowledgeable about the environment and conditions in South Sudan and were able to offer great advice on what is working best for their other clients drilling in South Sudan. PAT-drill designs and builds their rigs in Bankok, Thailand. They have a sales and service office in South Sudan where our team will have access to technical support. PAT-drill keeps their equipment lightweight – making it cheaper to buy, easier to transport, and less costly to operate.

As a result of the operations team’s rigorous process of identifying and choosing a vendor we came in way under the anticipated $500,000 budget. We are actually purchasing two drilling rigs at a cost of just under $400,000! We have ordered a large rig mounted on a truck, our new “Iron Giraffe,” and a smaller rig mounted on a trailer. The small rig will be used as back up for the large rig and for training our staff–The additional money raised for the rig will purchase vehicles needed for our new rehabilitation team, launched in 2017.

Salva, the Board of Directors, and our teams in the U.S. and South Sudan are grateful to everyone who contributed to the capital campaign, especially all of the teachers and students who worked so hard to help us to fund a new “Iron Giraffe.” You are making a difference to people in isolated villages who without a well would not have safe water.

Notes from South Sudan: Coming Home to Wau

 Board president glenn M. Balch, jr., lynn malooly, salva dut and board member anne turner

Board president glenn M. Balch, jr., lynn malooly, salva dut and board member anne turner

The following is the second in a series of blog posts, entitled "Notes from South Sudan", by Lynn Malooly (left), Executive Director of Water for South Sudan. She and several other WFSS team members traveled to South Sudan in March 2018. Look for more stories from her in the coming months.

After a few days in the capital city of Juba we flew to Wau, the second largest city in South Sudan, and our travels took us deeper into the country.  With a population of about 150,000, Wau was unlike any city I had ever seen. Many residents live in simple mud and grass huts. The main roads are dirt and as we drove we navigated around pot holes, cows, goats, and people. People walk everywhere, and a lucky few get around by bicycle. Our local team met us at the airport and faces came alive as I met, in person for the first time, some of our local managers. We were also met with the heat. Salva reminded us over and over to wear our hats and stay hydrated. He told us that we needed to sweat—it was our bodies’ way to keep cool, and stave off heatstroke. And so we sweated… all the time.  Water bottles became our constant companions.

 WFSS cooks Alic and Becky in their soon to be old kitchen.

WFSS cooks Alic and Becky in their soon to be old kitchen.

We came home to the WFSS compound in Wau, the heart of our work in South Sudan and were delighted to meet more of our team. The compound was a busy scene, filled with vehicles, equipment and team members, including the compound dog, Blessing. We sat down to the first of many home-cooked meals, all served outside.

We were impressed with the hard work of the entire WFSS team, but especially our cooks. The women toil every day, making breakfast, lunch and dinner for all of our team members. A small shack serves as their kitchen where they prepare meals, which they then cook outside over charcoal and wood fires on the ground. When we expressed our admiration, Salva told us that when there is a job opening, often 100 women will line up outside our compound. WFSS is a very desirable job opportunity, especially for women. Those of us who have the luxury of cooking in the US urged our team to move the construction of a simple new kitchen to a high priority item.

While there, US Operations Support Coordinator Gary Prok assisted the team as they brought our first drilling rig back online. This small rig can now be used as back-up, for local drilling, and as a training rig for team members ready to learn and grow. We witnessed the administrative work of our team, working in small offices, with just ceiling fans to move the hot air around. We also experienced the internet in South Sudan—a miracle that it’s there, and certainly not the lightning speed we were used to back home.

We spent four days in the compound, including numerous meetings under the shade of trees in the 100+ degree heat, reviewing operations and job descriptions, and planning for the future.

 WFSS compound at sunset

WFSS compound at sunset

 country directors aj and lion with operations support coordinator gary prok

country directors aj and lion with operations support coordinator gary prok

Next up, we would travel into the field, to witness the work of WFSS.

Season Winding Down as Rainy Season Approaches

 community members in Mabil village in aweil east state celebrate a new well

community members in Mabil village in aweil east state celebrate a new well

The WFSS teams have had a successful season, and are now beginning to wind down as the rainy season approaches.

To date, the drilling team has drilled 36 new wells, and is on target to hit its goal of 44 new wells. The rehabilitation team has repaired 19 of our older wells, and is also on target, planning to repair 25 older wells. Our two hygiene teams have traveled with the drilling and rehab teams, helping communities improve hygiene practices. 

All of the teams are making their way back to our Operations Center in Wau, and will be able to continue their work as they travel. As the rainy season begins, the roads we use will soon become impassable.

We are looking forward to sharing updates on our almost-completed school sanitation project in Wau, where we are installing latrines at the Zogolona Primary School.

Thanks to our supporters around the world for supporting our work and helping to improve the lives of those we serve as we help to develop communities in South Sudan.