Fundraising for clean water Under the Andean Sky

University of Idaho engineering organization hopes to raise money for irrigation project

MARCUS STEPHEN COX, Evergreen reporter

High in the Andean mountains is the modest Bolivian community of Carani, an idyllic village that’s suffering from the lack of proper plumping.

The project that brought members of the University of Idaho Humanitarian Engineering Corps together with Carani is approaching the end of a five-year partnership.

As the plan to modernize plumbing and irrigation systems to bring clean water to Carani nears completion, the members of UI-HEC will be hosting a fundraising bash, Under the Andean Sky, to ensure the project remains on schedule.

Amanda Murdock, a senior at UI who is also UI-HEC treasurer and fundraising event coordinator, said they were initially matched with Carani by Engineers in Action. This international organization pairs student groups with communities looking for assistance.

According to the Engineers in Action website, the Carani Project will serve a community population of about 25 families. However, Murdock said, this number can double when accounting for any families that travel between Carani and La Paz for business purposes.

Even though UI-HEC expressed interest in providing aid to a community in need, the process of being matched with one is not simple, Murdock said. Both the organization and the community need to commit entirely.

“There’s a certain amount of work a community has to put in beforehand,” Murdock said. “A community has to come together as a whole and decide what’s best for [everyone].”

She noted that before Carani, the club was attached to another village, which as a whole was unable to come together. Without their full support, UI-HEC had to find another candidate.

“We had to work to be accepted by [Carani],” Murdock said, “but we have put in an emotional effort to respect them and their community, and they have welcomed us with open arms.”

Although UI-HEC lays pipeline and sets up water taps, Murdock said it’s the community members who dig ditches and help the group install these systems.

The student organization set up a crowdfunding campaign in early 2017 for Carani with a $10,000 goal. They made nearly $20,000.

Still, Murdock said, Under the Andean Sky is another attempt to raise enough to allow the Carani project to continue.

“We do several fundraising events a semester because [providing aid] is very expensive,” Murdock said.

While the fundraising events do contribute to the daily operations of the club, the majority of the funds go toward purchasing the supplies they will use when they visit Carani every August.

Murdock said they’re buying a GPS unit to gather information about their location while there, before bringing it back to UI facilities.

“We … model it back here, so we can better understand and better model the systems,” she said.

Under the Andean Sky is the eighth annual fundraising event for UI-HEC and the fourth since being partnered with Carani. Murdock said last year was possibly its biggest event ever, with an estimated 120 attendees.

Murdock said the fundraisers were initially organized as formal events, but they have recently found great success in providing a more casual setting for students.

“Students are the lifeblood of the club that [do] all the work,” she said, “so the more students we get interested, the better.”

The bash will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at the 1912 Center on Sixth Street in Moscow.

The event features live music from musicians Linzy Collison-Ris and Jodi Marie Fisher. Tickets, which cost $20 for general admission and $15 for students, can be purchased at the door. They include dinner and drinks provided by Maialina Pizzeria Napoletana and Hunga Dunga Brewing.

Patrons will also be able to participate in a silent auction featuring donated prizes or a raffle giveaway by purchasing tickets for one dollar.

Murdock is optimistic about attendance this year. She said she wants to provide a good time on Saturday, while also appealing to those who are genuinely interested in the cause.

“I think the passion of the people in the project is the lifeblood of the organization,” Murdock said, “but second to that is only the generosity of the people in the community that is sponsoring this project.”