Drilling teeth to drilling wells

By Geoff Lee

June 9, 2016 12:00 AM

He’s gone from drilling teeth in Lloydminster to drilling water wells in Nicaragua with funding support from the Border City Rotary Club to which he belongs.
Dentist Nekky Jamal from Wayside Dental Centre is spearheading the rotary-backed project through his Quench initiative to provide drinking water to drought-stricken parts of northwestern Nicaragua.
“Our goal in May last year was to drill three wells and we’ve actually drilled eight to date,” he said.
“We’ve surpassed over goal and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Jamal just returned from a water well project in May in Nicaragua where the rotary club helped to bring drinking water to three communities of Las Pilas, Mina de Agua and Rincon Garcia, serving more than 2,500 people.
Very little rain has fallen in the region over the last four years.
“It’s 40 C every day and it’s hot and they don’t have water—you need water to live and water is life,” said Jamal.
Border City Rotary is partnered with Change for Children in Edmonton to facilitate the construction of water wells in Nicaragua through their Centro Humboldt contact in that country.
“We drilled three wells in these three different communities which is a huge undertaking, especially here from Canada,” said Jamal.
“I just want to say I am incredibly proud to be part of the rotary club because we not only help people here, but we help people a world away as well.”
Jamal visits Nicaragua four or five times a year either with a brigade of dentists to provide free dental work or to construct more rotary funded wells.
“I do it because we take a lot of stuff for granted here and it’s tough to see populations that are struggling with the basic needs of life—to see that it’s easy to help,” he said.
“We can help them whether it’s fixing their teeth or educating on the importance keeping a clean mouth or actually providing water to these people that they would otherwise go without.”
Jamal will head back to Nicaragua in November to check on the progress of Quench and will be among 10 dentists who will provide free dental care in those drinking well communities in February, 2017.     
Change for Children has provided portable water systems for 73 communities in the country’s dry north since 2004.
The latest wells drilled in May through Quench go through 250 to 400 ft. of volcanic rock into an aquifer of drinking water.
The wells are usually located in a central area of the benefiting community.
Jamal said the reason the well project kind of hit near and dear to him is that if the community didn’t have a well, women and children are often forced to go and get water from the closest well which is often kilometres away.
As a result, he said the kids don’t go to school—they have to go help their moms collect water while the fathers go to work.
Jamal said when he went to Nicaragua last May with the launch of Quench, he met a woman who explained how her husband, who worked in the sugarcane field, had passed away from kidney disease like a lot of other men in the community because they are forced to drink pesticide filled water.
“That took a piece of my heart and we didn’t want to hear stories like that happening anymore, so I thought we can make a difference,” said Jamal.
The projects are self-sustaining through the formation of water committees headed by women who collect user fees for pump repairs or to fund new wells.
The next goal of project Quench is to provide a tank for the communities so water can be pumped and gravity drained to the houses.
Jamal said there is a lot of great support within Border City Rotary to expand the project.
“We’ve applied for district grants for rotary and we’ll be applying for international grants for rotary this coming year,” he said.
“We hope to make this project big.”

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