Sydney plumber and Reece Abroad Grant recipient Adrian Lockley has returned to Australia, forever changed by his experience in Petites Desdunes. His project to install rainwater tanks around the village’s school was successful, despite significant challenges and variables that were completely out of his control. More than simply installing tanks, the project challenged stereotypes, brought the community together and gave them an active sense of control over their own destiny.
The challenges started from the moment they hit the ground. Items that had been purchased ahead of time were incompatible with each other. Buildings were sloped in the wrong direction. The roof projection Adrian had been given was incorrect, which meant the guttering would have to be relocated. Even seemingly small things like the tools available was a challenge. Adrian’s tin snips were a highlight for one of the local plumbers, who had never had access to that kind of equipment.
Adrian worked alongside local labourers, like Tutu, who is also a local community leader. More than just a simple installation, Adrian’s aim was to engage with the local community and help them learn and increase their skills – and ultimately become self-sufficient. By introducing these new skills to local tradespeople, they can now take those skills and create even more benefits for the community.
“The passion of these guys shone through,” he said.
At the end of two days of hard work on the ground, Adrian was both mentally and physically exhausted. He was burnt to a crisp and sweating through his shirt, but he was overjoyed by the reaction of the local community. The six 4000L tanks were installed and the guttering was fixed.
“From the original proposal, the tank orientation has changed, the gutter locations have changed; but the project was completed, and it worked,” Adrian said. As a result, Petites Desdunes finally has a functioning rainwater harvest system. Above and beyond the physical project, the villagers have taken ownership and learned valuable skills they can carry to other villages and projects.
“What we’ve done is going to benefit far more than a village. It helps the economy, it breaks down stereotypes, most importantly; it empowers the people,” said Adrian.