Jason Obergfell

Year Joined MKLM: 2005
Country: Bolivia
City: Cochabamba
Focus: Sustainable Development
Project(s): Drinking Water Systems, Ecological Toilets, and Activities to Address
Environmental Contamination

People Served: Varies from 100 to 1,000 people, depending on the project.

Project Goal(s):
Help Bolivians acquire better access to adequate quantities of safe drinking water.
Empower Bolivians to address serious environmental contamination issues where they live, including basic sanitation.
Build relationships of mutual accompaniment that are constantly revealing the spirit of God.

Personal Data
Jason is originally from Lexington, Indiana and was active in St. Emily’s Parish in Mount Prospect, Illinois for 11 years prior to joining MKLM. He is a registered professional civil engineer in the United States.

Current Ministry

Jason Obergfell is a single lay missioner living in the “Zona Sur” of Cochabamba. The neighborhood is primarily home to a mix of lower income Bolivians. Some homes are constructed of adobe and barely have doors, while others have a brick construction and appear to be reasonably well-constructed. The roads are cobble-stone, and most people travel via bus to the downtown part of Cochabamba.

Jason is a professional civil engineer and currently spends the majority of his time working on water and basic sanitation projects in collaboration with various not-for-profit institutions, such as Water for People. One such project, in collaboration with the Caritas (Catholic Charities) branch of the Archbishop’s office, was a water project in the small rural town of Tapacarí, Bolivia. Jason lived and worked in Tapacarí for approximately one year managing the construction of the town’s water system.

Tapacarí is home to nearly 200 families and is located about 2 hours outside of Cochabamba. Access to the community is via a dirt/rock mountain road combined with a road constructed in the rocky riverbed that passes by the community. The 2-inch diameter pipe that now serves the residents begins 10 miles from the community. The trenches for the piping were excavated by volunteer manual labor provided by the community as their contribution to the overall effort. To cross ravines along the pipe’s route, cable suspension bridges varying in lengths from 6 feet to over 600 feet were constructed. The project is now complete, and the system delivers water daily to the community’s residents.

Jason is also involved in environmental projects in Bolivia. Those projects have included themes varying from serious environmental contamination of public water sources to proper management of solid waste. One of the methods for addressing these issues has been the empowerment of young adults, typically between 15 and 30 years of age, to address serious environmental issues in their own communities. Jason has also provided technical support to Cochabamba’s local environmental group, FoCoMADe, and has helped it design and execute several public outreach efforts to address issues such as air and water contamination.