I left Provo on Friday. Luckily, I didn’t have to drive. I was physically and emotionally beat. I needed a break.
After I crashed in Page AZ for 36 hours, the crew from Engineers Without Borders (EWB) headed out to the lands of the Navajo Reservation. The first day we spent with tribal members living in the very isolated Navajo Canyon. The area is a Garden of Eden, blessed with several springs (of living water). The families living there ned help with further developing their water resources. In the past, there had been water development, but much of the infrastructure is now deteriorated. The old orchards need pruning.
At the first house we stopped at, there was a steel-palletted 800-watt, self-contained solar power unit. It just needed final installation. A sign on the unit read: “Sacred Power: Renewable Technologies for Today.” Hopefully, somebody is coming back to finish the installation.
On day two, we started work on two Navajo Mountain projects. The first was the replacement of the shingles on the home of Sylvia, an 87-year-old elder. This project was a forerunner to the installation of a water harvesting system and improved in-door bathroom facilities. The shingles were replaced with a metal roof.
While we were working on the house, Sylvia moved to a nearby unfinished female hogan (octogon). The design for the multi-room hogan is very cleaver, and includes a bathroom and kitchen. All that needs to be done with this home is finish it. Water from a nearby spring is available. Because of its isolation, any electricity needs to be provided by solar.
Sylvia is very short and very small. She dresses in traditional Navajo garb and is hunched over when she walks. We asked thru a translator about taking some photographs, she conscented.
The second project involved indoor improvements to Mary’s old stone home in preparation for the installation of indoor water and power. Mary suffers from dementia (or something related). The first day we were there, the family was having a blessing ceremony for Mary. They asked us to stay inside for a couple of hours. No problem since we were painting the interior of Mary’s home.
I love traveling to the Navajo Nation. It’s diversity that makes America great. The reservation, particularly that of the elders, is very different culture from Americans of European descent. I hope in some small way we are helping to preserve the viability of the Navajo pastoral life.