Despite pandemic lockdowns, water connections continue at a distance

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As they say, the show must go on.

And in the case of the Running Strong for American Indian Youth Mni Wiconi water projects program on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, that is exactly what is happening despite the reservation-wide lockdown.

Our longtime contractor, Oglala Sioux-owned Badlands Enterprises recently received the essential status designation from the Oglala Sioux Tribe enabling the company to continue unabated with our mission of connecting as many households to the main service as possible this year.

Among those who are especially grateful that the work is ongoing are Patricia, a 66-year-old elder living alone, and the Gregg household of 11 including seven children under the age of 18.

For more than a year, Patricia has had to travel to a nearby church to fetch water from its hydrant for all the water she needs on a daily basis for drinking, cooking, bathing and washing — not an easy task.

In the case of the Gregg household, the Indian Health Service was contacted but was unable to resolve the family’s water woes.

But just in the past few days, workers from Badlands Enterprises were able to come out and lay hundreds of feet of water line, install outdoor hydrants and resolve the issue.

In addition to the contractor, our field staff is also continuing their work of accepting and evaluating applications, in addition to all their other responsibilities including distributing food and basic hygiene items.

While we are all looking forward to do the day when the reservation returns back to a sense of normalcy, we are thankful that in the meantime our mission of providing water to Pine Ridge families in desperate need of running water is progressing.

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