Area plumber brings expertise and help to other countries
WTCH/Frog County News is starting a new series that will run every other Friday.
Today we kick off our Community Helper series, which highlights people in the community who have gone above and beyond for those around them, or in the case of our first Community Helper, those who they don’t see every day.
Randy Lorge of Shawano is a third-generation plumber, but his work does not just stay in the area. Randy recently led a team into Africa to help teach residents how they can improve the plumbing situation that they are in.
“I was just approached by Milwaukee School of Engineering,” Lorge said. “They were in need of putting together a group of young engineers and young plumbers to do projects like this in India and Africa and other parts of the world.”
“We were over in Diepsloot, South Africa,” Lorge went on. “The area has probably got a population close to 800,000 people. None of the homes, none of the buildings have indoor plumbing, it’s all outdoor plumbing. These communal toilet facilities service somewhere in the neighborhood of probably 250 to 300 people a day.”
Not only did Lorge and his group want to make plumbing improvements themselves, but also help those, so that they may better sustain their plumbing needs.
“Part of our project was to go over there and fix several of the units while we were there for the week, and then also to make upgrades that could be replicated very simply by some of the natives that were there. Then we would leave behind the know-how and the skills so that they could use to better themselves after we left,” Lorge explained.
With the plumbing improvements in Lorge’s district, they were also importantly able to save thousands of gallons of valuable water for the community.
“The seven days we were there, about 14 different toilet units were fixed. There was water to them, but sometimes the water was just running into the street because there was nobody there to put a shut-off valve in. When it was all said and done, we saved about 15,000 gallons a day of water,” a number that seemed astronomical, as Lorge remarked.
Despite all their hard work, Lorge couldn’t help but the progress is just a drop in a bucket for Diepsloot.
“I would consider it mission started,” Lorge stated. “We were only able to work on 14 units. There’s 13 different districts. This district we were in, there was over 700 toilet units, so we barely even scratched the surface.”
Overall, it’s all about learning from one another and sharing valuable ideas with those who could use it.
“That’s our exact goal is to go in and basically share our skill and learn from them with what they have to work with, try to come up with creative solutions to some of their problems with some of our creative thinking, just like anyone else. You go in, give somebody a fresh set of ideas, and hopefully they can run with it and make things better for themselves as well.”
It’s also Lorge’s hope that the students he volunteered with that will be entering the plumbing trade, will keep this in mind as they progress in their careers.
“The other goal of this is that we bring young people in with us,” Lorge said. “Young men and women that are just getting into the plumbing trade, or just getting in to the engineering trade, and make them aware of what’s going on half way across the world. Maybe it changes them to do something that they thought they’d never do before, maybe they go back and do some more work there.”
Lorge said this was not his final plumbing trip, he already has plans to a similar mission in 2017.
Randy Lorge, this week’s Community Helper. Check out below for actual video of the experience.