Melbourne volunteers lend hand to Miracle Village with new drill

By Emily Van Zandt Originally Published February 14, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated February 13, 2013 at 10:19 a.m.
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Members of Miracle Village, from the left, Doyne Robertson, Jamie Rivera and Tom Cone, stand in front of the group’s newly purchased well-digging rig. The rig will soon be sent to Peru.

— It’s taken two years and nearly a quarter-million dollars, but members of a group in Melbourne have finally purchased a well-drilling rig for their sister foundation in Cajamarca, Peru. If only they could get it there.

“Right now, it’s just sitting here in Melbourne,” said David Miller, a member of the group Miracle Village. “We thought the Army would help transport it, but that’s probably not going to work. The Navy is pretty promising. … They’re sending a hospital ship sometime in the next few months to Peru, and there’s a chance that we’ll get to load it on there.”

Miracle Village — the stateside support for a group called Villa Milagro — has been active in Melbourne for about eight years. Stationed in both San Angelo, Texas, and Cajamarca, Peru, Villa Milagro is a Christian organization that works to provide medical care, education and clean water to the people of Peru.

Doyne Robertson, president of Miracle Village, first became involved with the people of Peru as a missionary, living in the country from 1980-1990.

“I just have a deep love for the Peruvian people,” Robertson said. “They’re very gracious and very hard working. They have so little and are so appreciative. They keep saying ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’”

Though he’s retired from his work as a missionary, Robertson still travels to the country at least once a year. Volunteers with Miracle Village travel down often to help with building a church or new homes. Every year, doctors from around the Batesville and Melbourne areas travel to Peru and set up temporary clinics, seeing as many patients as they can while they’re in town.

“We work with an orphanage there, supplying milk, and help sponsor kids going to school and help with building roads and canals,” Robertson said.

But some of the group’s most important work is done with well-drilling in the area.

“They tell us that children that get their water from a ditch or pond, half of the children die,” Robertson said. “But the mortality rate drops to 1 in 10 if they have a well that helps them access clean water.”

After drilling more than 300 wells, the drill Miracle Village has been using is nearly completely worn out.

“The old drill is sitting on a 1946 pickup truck,” Miller said. “The rig itself was bought new in 1985. Every 50 minutes or so, you have to throw water on the radiator to keep it from blowing up.”

Needless to say, the new drill will be an improvement once the group gets it to Peru.

Miller said the majority of donations for the new drill came from individuals, but many churches made donations as well.

“We’re still short about $50,000, but I went ahead and bought the rig on the faith and hope that we’d end up having enough,” Miller said.

On Monday, Robertson and a group from Miracle Village left for Peru to deliver gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Churches from across the U.S. packed shoe boxes with school supplies, candy and clothing. Robertson said his group has around 3,000 boxes to hand out.

“We’re mainly a Christian organization, but no denomination,” Robertson explained. “There’s no litmus test for anyone to get involved.”

Those interested in learning more about Miracle Village or Villa Milagro can visit villamilagro.net.

Staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at 501-399-3688 or evanzandt@arkansasonline.com.

Staff Writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at 501-399-3688 or emily@syncweekly.com.

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