Despite record low temperatures, frozen ground, and winter storms, our field staff on Pine Ridge managed to complete 10 water line projects throughout November, December, and January. Among these projects were the Anpo Wicahpe Pine Ridge Girls School and the home of Grace Rooks, who is a featured subject in the CNN GoThere mini documentary produced on Pine Ridge this winter.
The Anpo Wicahpe Pine Ridge Girls School is the first Native American all girls prep school on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The School inaugurated its first class in August 2016 as a pioneering effort to regenerate the local Lakota community beginning with its young women by enabling every girl to excel, go to college, and return as a leader for future generations. As of November 2019, the Anpo Wicahpe Pine Ridge Girls School ceremony house now has running water complete with a tie-in to a 10-inch main, 800 feet of trenching, and a meter pit and hydrant.
Grace Rooks, a local resident who cares for her grandson, had lived without running water for 7 months at the time of her application. She relied on a neighbor for her cooking, cleaning, and drinking water, often making multiple trips a day to provide for her grandson, who lives with a medical condition which requires extra bathing to treat. Grace and her determination to overcome her water scarcity is one of the subjects of the CNN GoThere mini documentary which profiled recipients of Running Strong water connections.
Running Strong water projects are most commonly worked on in the spring, summer, and fall seasons because the weather conditions are more forgiving and amenable to heavy groundwork necessary to trench and connect to water mains. However, the severity of winter weather on Pine Ridge only intensifies residents’ need for safe and accessible water, which motivates our field staff and contracting team to push through the freezing temperatures and snow storms in order to ensure these 10 residents had the basic necessity of clean, running water. Keep an eye out for more water projects this spring and summer as the weather warms up.