“When there’s a will, there’s a way” Although often overused and oversimplified, the saying beautifully summed up our Nanin implementation journey. When challenges relentlessly get in our way, our extra will and prayers were the only two things left to run to. But the world’s surprises don’t stop at hurdles—helping hands were also stretched and everything runs out perfectly in the end.
January 2023 was a long-awaited month for some; people of Nanin and me including. The month entails a back-to-back implementation phase for 3 of our projects; Water for Nanin, Water and Education for Sasitamean, and Education for Wekeke. All three has its own tears and joy but as Nanin was my first implementation project, I will, go to more details about the later two on other opportunities!
It was my first month officially joining the organization and the journey somehow serves as a giant-happy-hands on welcoming remarks for me. Day 0: 9 Hour Long Car Ride and the Shadow of Bad Weather
My trip started on the third day of the new year. I took a 02.00 AM flight to Kupang that day, planning to have one spare day before our implementation journey starts on the 4th of January. I was the first of the Nanin Implementation Team to have reached Kupang—our meeting point. Of course, other than Kak (Indonesian term to call someone whose age is not much above us) Yacob, our field coordinator, and Kak Joy, our photographer, who happens to reside in Kupang.
On the morning of the 4th, we promised to meet at the Kupang airport before we continue our trip together to Nanin. The implementation team consisted of the 8 of us; I, Kak Joy, Kak Yacob, Abi—the technical head of Solar Chapter, Enzo – President of Solar Chapter Vancouver, Om (Indonesian term to call an older man) Yoga—our local technical and field consultant, Mas (Javanese term to call man whose age is not much above us) Hafizh – technician from our vendor, and Mas Adib – also technician whose arrival will follow the next day.
The day started perfectly with a nice pre-trip Kupangnese meal, our drivers did mention that the drive will be long so we needed to fuel up first. The ride was estimated to be 6 hours long. Typically, it will not have to take as long, but due to current weather conditions, the shorter route was unable to be accessed.
The weather back then was not very friendly. Storms raged in the sea and high rainfall filled all over the East Nusa Tenggara area. Our shipping even got delayed and questions on the possibility of continuing the project were raised just days before the journey. But “let’s do this” took over the discussion and we all agreed to continue the project accordingly.
Surprisingly, a rather beautiful weather accompanied our ride to Nanin. However, the ride took longer than expected. We drove for 9 hours with only 1 stop and reached the local parish – our accommodation throughout the implementation -- at around 9 PM. This happened to be the longest car-ride for some of the team members. Bones were instantly cracked and feets were stretched the moment we got out of the car. Although tired, Romo (Indonesian term for Pastor/Father)’s smile and warm hospitality greeted us and made us immediately feel better.
We continued the night with a quick team briefing and a lovely dinner. Some members haven’t gotten enough amount of sleep but smiles were exchanged at the end of the night, leaving us with a full spirit for the next few days. Day 1: Missing Materials
Internal morning team briefing started our first day of implementation, we agreed to divide the team by 3 – team 1 was responsible for pipe installing; team 2 was in charge of solar panel; and team 3 was in charge of documentation. All was set and we went to the project site at around 9 AM. After greeting and short briefing with the residents of Nanin, each team member immediately did their expected roles. Team solar panel, along with technicians, began the first working day with checking all the materials and spare parts which arrived only a few days before we did. Just then we realized that some essential parts were missing. We tried to track down the shipment to find out where the parts were lost. But all efforts were futile and we decided to buy new ones instead. The challenge was, the nearest material store is located in Malaka’s capital, Betun, around 1 hour away from Nanin. Immediately, the predetermined roles were changed to adjust the current changes. Two of the team members, me and Enzo decided to go to Betun together with a few local residents from Nanin to go buy the materials. We went to Betun around lunch time to found out that all of the material stores were still closed due to new year’s holiday. We grew tensed as challenges by challenges uncover itselves repeatedly during the first day. The local residents said that we can wait until lunchtime is over, probably, some stores were only closed due to lunchtime. At around 1.30 PM, we once again drove around the town and found one store to be operating that day. We checked whether they have the materials we needed, and thankfully, they do. We promptly purchased the items and rushed back to Nanin. Back to the village, some of our to-do lists were already checked. At around 6 PM we end the day and decided to continue the project the following day. Day 2&3: Missing Tub and the Long Wait
Team’s spirit was still high during the second day of the implementation. That day, we aimed to finish installing solar panel and pipes. We managed to do the work rather seamlessly as the team grasped a better understanding of each role. However, we did not achieve our goal on the second day. The solar panel installation progress was only up to 50% due to technical hurdles. The team grew worried on whether we were able to finish the project on time. Accordingly, we adjusted our goal and aimed to finish the installation on the third day. Hopefully, solar panel will be all set by noon, and we can test the system before the day ends. Since our timeline was slightly off-track, uneasiness filled the air on the third day of the implementation. Especially, the sky looks cloudy since morning. If it rained, we will surely not be able to finish the project punctually.
To make matters even more complicated, we faced a new challenge, the fiber tub needed for water testing haven’t arrived. Days before, the village officials said that the tub will arrive on the morning of the third day. But until noon, the team saw no sight of the tub. We were more nervous.
While the technicians install the solar panels, other team members brainstormed ways to get the tub. We finally agreed to buy the fiber tub in Betun since we still have several hours before the scheduled water testing. But another challenge appeared as no truck was available to deliver the tub. We did not give up. Along with Romo and other residents, we tried to find transportation for the shipment. Sadly, once we got the truck, the material store told us that they did not have the fiber tub we needed. Romo then came with an alternative, and asked us to borrow from a local resident instead. Happily, one local resident agreed to lend his tub momentarily until we were able to buy the tub.
Although we managed to overcome the tub challenge, new complication came, the sky got drastically cloudier. At the same time, the solar panel installation was not yet completed. As the sky grew darker overtime, we were certain that the rain will fall in any minute. Challenge after challenge, at last, we lost hope on being able to test the water that day.
We started discussing alternative plans and how the water testing can be done on the following day, until a beautiful surprise came knocking at our door. Our technician informed us that they have finished installing the solar panels and all of a sudden, the sky was clear. The sun light abruptly hit us and a new opening presented itself in a matter of seconds – we were able to do the water testing that day. In mere minutes, our frown was turned into huge smiles. Straight away, we carried out the plan to borrow the tub from a local resident and quickly mobilized the residents to the water testing site. It didn’t take long until we finally witnessed the water sprayed from our installed pipe, through the help of the solar panels. The residents grew festive, they played and splashed water to one another excitingly with huge smiles all over their faces. Finally, the wait for water is over.
In the end, everything works accordingly and on time for the Nanin residents and our team.
When there’s a will, there’s a way indeed. Bad weather, missing materials, long process, unavailable tub, and all other challenges which seemed hard to get through were overcome by our will, great teamwork, and collaboration with all actors especially the communities.