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Representatives of the International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Foundation recently completed a new outreach project with partners in the Naatsis’áán Chapter of the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona, further developing a working relationship established via the Community Plumbing Challenge Navajo Nation program and IWSH-DigDeep Navajo Water Project collaboration.
Last December, a team of skilled volunteers, local contractors and community leaders joined forces in the remote reservation location near the Utah border to install new water supply and septic systems at the Arizona warehouse, the temporary home of the Naatsis’áán (Navajo Mountain) Chapter office.
The warehouse is serving as the temporary headquarters while the main Chapter House — the base for the most recent IWSH CPC project, in Piute Mesa, Arizona in June 2019 — undergoes major renovation. The building will become the new Navajo Mountain post office once the chapter staff returns to its headquarters early this year.
The team included two IWSH representatives — Jed Scheuermann and Randy Lorge — plus volunteers from the Naatsis’áán Chapter and DigDeep, hosts of the Navajo Water Project and IWSH’s ongoing CPC collaboration in the Navajo Nation. Volunteers from UA Local Union 412 (Albuquerque, New Mexico) rounded out the crew, including two apprentices, Sasha Sun and Aaron Heitman, as well as Business Agent Adam Valdez and Business Manager Courtenay Eichhorst.
IAPMO Education and Training Director Randy Lorge, one of the IWSH team members responsible for the project, said the team accomplished its goals despite numerous challenges.
“It was an incredible week; a lot of work, a lot of prep, a lot of ups and downs, but in the end, we have done as we said we would and delivered a new plumbing system that is going to serve the Navajo Mountain Chapter for years to come,” Lorge said. “It might not look like much, but now that they have this new restroom facility in place, the chapter will be able to move forward with their expansion.”
Lorena Atene, community services coordinator at Naatsis’áán Chapter, said the new office will help them continue providing services for families in the local community.
“Through our Chapter House, we provide services for bathroom additions, minor renovations, roof replacements, and we process paperwork to do with power line extensions and house wiring projects for families that are being hooked up to power lines,” Atene said. “So from the new site we are going to be able to continue this remote office work and important communications with Window Rock offices plus all the other entities we work with, to make things happen for our community.”
Eichhorst, who also participated in the two previous CPC Navajo Nation projects, was more than happy to return.
“We have been given another opportunity to help the Navajo Nation, so we thought it would be a great chance to bring some new people out here — as well as some older, familiar faces — and do some good for our community,” said Eichhorst, a recent recipient of the inaugural IWSH Award in recognition of his dedicated support toward the development of the first U.S. CPC program.
“We’ve brought a young female apprentice — Sasha Sun — and this is her second time out here. And we've brought another apprentice — Aaron Heitman — who has never done this before,” Eichhorst added. “This is the first time he has been out here, and he is super excited to help; he was one of the first to volunteer. He has never been in Arizona! So this was the perfect opportunity to come out and help us; as well as providing these folks with their new, temporary Chapter House, we have the opportunity to teach some of our apprentices what it is like to do more residential-style plumbing out here on the reservation, rather than the industrial-style plumbing in the middle of town that we normally do.
“At UA Local 412, one of the biggest things we are focus on is community involvement,” Eichhorst continued. “In every meeting, and in everything we do, we encourage participation and we encourage community involvement. This IWSH collaboration is probably the best project we are involved with. Like many other organizations across the country, we support the ‘Heat’s On’ program, and many other events with our city, state, and surrounding counties. But our IWSH partnership has a special place in our hearts, because we know how much good these projects do.”
Shanna Yazzie, Navajo Mountain project manager for DigDeep, applauded the partnership.
“IWSH and DigDeep working together is a great accomplishment for the next step for the Navajo Mountain Chapter as they continue servicing the community from the renovated, temporary building,” she said. “Communication, teamwork and having local skilled contractors was vital to the success of this latest project.”
Donovan Smallcanyon, a DigDeep water-solar technician and Navajo Mountain resident, was happy to be part of the project.
“This week we’ve been working at the Arizona warehouse, where Navajo Mountain Chapter are going to be moving into,” he said. “This project has helped bring clean, running water to this remote location. It's very fulfilling. We’ve faced challenges this week with snow, plus how far removed we are from anything like nearby suppliers or hardware stores. But it's really great to work with these organizations, and support what they want to do to help out the Navajo people.”
Wholesale-distributor Ferguson, contributed supplies as part of its ongoing partnership with IWSH and DigDeep.
Companies or organizations wishing to get involved with the CPC Navajo Mountain program, or any other future editions of the international CPC program, are encouraged to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org. One-time, tax-deductible donations to support these efforts may also be made via www.iwsh.org/donate.