Give Clean Water to 1000 Families in Latin America

 
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Feb 25, 2013

Our New Program in Panama

Wounaan Girl
Wounaan Girl

Dear Friends and Supporters
I want to share with you some important news.  In January, Agua Pura was invited to Panama to meet with tribal communities and learn about their water problems.  The Wounaan peoples are one of several distinct native american tribes there with their own language and culture.  Traditionally they have lived for many centuries in the Darien area of eastern Panama overlapping with Columbia, in protected areas called Comarcas or reservations.
In recent years increasing outside pressures have negatively impacted their communities and threatened the Wounaan’s culture.  Violence spilling over from Columbia’s drug wars and illegal logging and cattle ranching on their lands have caused water pollution and illness in the communities.  Though Panama is a relatively wealthy nation for Central America, government help and resources rarely reach the Wounaan.
Because of Agua Pura’s background in clean water and sanitation I was invited to speak at the biannual Congress of the Wounaan Peoples about our water testing and water purification programs.  The Congress or meeting was held in  the community of Puerto Lara in the Darien area.  Several hundred people attended, with both men and women equally represented and participating.  Among the many important topics they discussed  including health, education, land rights and security, I made a brief presentation about how they could learn to test and disinfect their water supplies and keep their families healthy and safe.  I also tested some of the local water supplies for bacterial contamination and found several that were highly polluted.
Unfortunately, contaminated drinking water has lately become an urgent problem, with a number of small Wounaan communities having no source of clean water.  Because of this urgency I was asked if Agua Pura would help them develop a program of water testing and water purification.  Their plan would be to have a group of trained health workers who would regularly monitor local water sources and leading community members who would advise families on steps they should take.  Agua Pura would train the health workers, provide supplies and support their work.  We would also work with the Wounaan communities to insure that they have access to clean drinking water, demonstrating water purification methods and safe water storage.  To be effective it may require a several year commitment of support from Agua Pura.
The Wounaan people have asked for our help and I am committed to provide it if we can, but  Agua Pura will need your backing and support more than ever to achieve it.  To support our work with the Wounaan people I am establishing a special fund at Global Giving.  Money contributed to this fund will go to help support the training and supplying of health workers and others to monitor drinking water in Wounaan communities.  Because of the urgency of the problem we may divert resources from other programs to start this program.  Agua Pura will work with the leadership of the Wounaan tribes to oversee the work of the water monitors.  It is Wounaan’s goal that these programs ultimately come under their direction and control, and Agua Pura supports them.
Thank you so much for your support this last year.  Because of your donations Agua Pura has been able to continue and expand it’s mission in Latin America serving more and more families.  Now we come to you with an urgent request for your support on a new  program.  Please see our project titled “Train 20 Indigenous Health Workers in Panama” #13128.  Any donation you make will immediately go to providing clean drinking water for the Wounaan people of Panama.
Sincerely,
Tom Carter
Executive Director
Agua Pura Para El Pueblo

Attending the Congress
Attending the Congress
Congress Speaker
Congress Speaker
Agua Pura Presentation
Agua Pura Presentation

Links:

Nov 23, 2012

Simple Water Purification Methods

Rocket stove demonstration in Coban, Guatemala
Rocket stove demonstration in Coban, Guatemala

One of Agua Pura’s important missions is to teach families ways that they can make their own  water safe to drink.  Rather than drilling wells, installing water systems or other expensive projects, Agua Pura demonstrates simple, inexpensive things they can do immediately to improve the health of their families.  These methods are nearly free, easy to do and good for the environment.  Later, when resources to build large projects become available these families will already have been protecting their families health.


As supporters of our work, you already know that we go into communities in Latin America and train local health workers and other community leaders to test local drinking water sources for bacterial contamination.  Diarrheal disease from drinking polluted water kills over a million children each year.  Agua Pura trains these people in modern, accurate methods of water testing then provides them with equipment and support at no charge so that they can continue to monitor their local water supplies.


After local health workers are trained in water testing we then go directly into the communities to work with families, to demonstrate these very simple and effective ways to make their water safe.  In dry, arid climates we teach people how to pasteurize water using simple reflector stoves made of cardboard and aluminum foil.  In rainy areas in Central America we build ‘rocket stoves” that efficiently burn waste fuel such as sticks and corn stalks and can be used for cooking as well as water purification.  And we pass out pasteurization indicators  - “WAPI’s” that show when the water is safe to drink.  We advocate for simple chlorine or other anti-bacterial drops that can kill pathogens.
Of course one of the most effective, least expensive and least followed procedures to prevent infection is hand washing.  In areas where drinking water is scarce or expensive, hand washing can seem like a luxury.  We work with school children and mothers to provide inexpensive hand washing stations in homes and schools that use little water but allow families to wash their hands after using the toilet and before cooking and eating.


This past summer and fall Agua Pura has begun to test various methods of water purification to see which are safest and most reliable for families to use.  There are many different procedures advocate by different organizations, some of which have only modest documentation about effectiveness, especially in real world settings.  Your contributions have made it possible for us to compare them against each other.  Using the same water testing techniques we teach to others, we tested various filter systems, solar pasteurization methods, sunlight UV disinfection and other techniques to see if they could make highly contaminated and dangerous water safe to drink.  Some methods did very well, some less so.


We plan to document and publish the results of our work later this winter, but we wanted to show you, our supporters and donors, some pictures of  work that you have made possible.  As always, we are deeply grateful for your help.

Your generous support of Agua Pura has made our work possible. All of our supplies and teaching materials were provided by your donations. Agua Pura volunteers pay all their own expenses so that 100% of your funds goes to our programs. We are deeply grateful for your help.

With your help Agua Pura has provided hundreds of Water Pasteurization Indicators (WAPI's) to families. WAPI's are a simple device that shows when water has been heated enough to make it safe to drink. A new project of ours has been to develop an information card with drawings showing how the WAPI's work without words, for families that don't read English or Spanish. Because of your support you can have a WAPI for your own use. They are good for camping or emergencies when you don't have access to clean water. Send us your name and address to tom@aguapuraparaelpueblo.org and we'll send you one.

School handwashing class, Tultitlan Mexico
School handwashing class, Tultitlan Mexico
method comparison testing
method comparison testing
learning about solar stoves in rural Guatemala
learning about solar stoves in rural Guatemala

Links:

Aug 13, 2012

Our Mexico Service Project

rebuilding the school latrine
rebuilding the school latrine

Agua Pura Director Tom Carter recently returned from a service trip to Mexico where he taught classes in water testing for community members and also advised and helped repair composting latrines. Because of a sudden family emergency at home he and his wife had to return early, leaving undone part of his program. Current plans are to return in the fall and complete the work, and perhaps to offer other programs as well. Here's his progress report:

Our program started in early July near Mexico City working with a local non-profit to improve sanitation and help provide clean drinking water to families working and living on a garbage dump. In the past, well intentioned service groups have tried to help by building composting latrines. The problem has been that some of the latrines were not well constructed nor were they easy to use or maintain. Some quickly fell into disrepair and were abandoned. Few latrines had any way for families to wash after using them and disease was easily spread.

Because of past expertise and experience, Agua Pura was asked to help advise and assist with rehabilitating the latrines and encouraging families to use them. The principal of urine diverting composting latrines is that when properly used and maintained the fecal material dries out and becomes safe to handle. We opened up some of the old latrines to show that the material inside was dried out and took samples to test for bacteria and other disease organisms. We showed families how to maintain their composting latrines and encouraged them to use them. We also helped to repair the local schools latrine so that the students could use it again and provided a hand washing station for them. Agua Pura will return often to the community to continue our work.

After completing that project we then traveled to Palenque in southern Mexico to continue a program we started last fall. There, working with the Mexican non-profit Amextra we gave a series of workshops on accurate, scientific methods of water testing for bacterial contamination. Many local communities have no access to safe water and have to rely on local water sources that are often polluted. When they test their drinking water and find it contaminated we then help them find simple inexpensive ways to make it safe, such as pasteurization using simple solar reflectors and water pasteurization indicators.

Your generous support of Agua Pura has made our work possible. All of our supplies and teaching materials were provided by your donations. Agua Pura volunteers pay all their own expenses so that 100% of your funds goes to our programs. We are deeply grateful for your help.

With your help Agua Pura has provided hundreds of Water Pasteurization Indicators (WAPI's) to families. WAPI's are a simple device that shows when water has been heated enough to make it safe to drink. A new project of ours has been to develop an information card with drawings showing how the WAPI's work without words, for families that don't read English or Spanish. Because of your support you can have a WAPI for your own use. They are good for camping or emergencies when you don't have access to clean water. Send us your name and address to tom@aguapuraparaelpueblo.org and we'll send you one.

New Handwashing Station
New Handwashing Station
Repairing School Latrine
Repairing School Latrine
Water Testing Workshop
Water Testing Workshop
Making Solar Stoves
Making Solar Stoves
New WAPI Instructions
New WAPI Instructions

Links:

May 17, 2012

Agua Pura Training Programs

building a rocket stove
building a rocket stove

Dear Friends and Supporters-

Thanks to your generous support Agua Pura has had a busy spring. One of our goals is to train volunteers and others in modern methods of water testing and water purification so that they can include these procedures in their own programs. Teaching others about the methods and supporting their work  greatly increases our impact and helps spread the information to more people.

Recently we received a request from a local community college to help train a group of 20 students going to Nicaragua on a service trip. They would  be working in rural communities helping with health and sanitation programs and wanted to know about clean water. On a Saturday before they left we gave them an intensive workshop on how to make simple solar stoves and “rocket stoves”. These stoves are safer to use than open fires and can easily pasteurize water making it safe to drink. Families can also use them to cook healthy meals.

We also trained them in use of water pasteurization indicators (WAPI's). They are small reusable tubes with a special wax inside that melts at a temperature when water is safe to drink. It is not necessary to boil water, only to pasteurize it to make it safe. Using a WAPI can help keep families safe from disease. The students took a number of WAPI's with them to distribute.  We're including a table that shows the some of the different pathogens that are killed by pasteurizing water.

WAPI's are also great to have as an emergency backup and for camping trips. If your drinking water is suspect you can heat it until the WAPI shows it's safe to drink. As thanks for being a supporter of Agua Pura, we will send you one at no charge for your use.  Send us an email with your address and we'll mail you one.

Thanks,

Tom

 

Links:


Attachments:
Jan 30, 2012

We're off to a Great Start!

Hand Washing at Tultitlan
Hand Washing at Tultitlan

Dear Friends-

What a wild December!  With your help we more than exceeded our fund raising goal to join GlobalGiving's group of partner non profits. The final figures aren't in yet but we received enough to fully fund our planned projects for this year, and your donations continue to come in.   Thank you again!

Now comes the exciting part, what can we do with our new resources?  Right now we are negotiating with several partner organizations in Latin America to sponsor water testing and water purification programs in their communities, Some are our tried and true friends and some are new potential partners.  We want to go back to  previous projects to check the effectiveness of our work  but we also want to expand to meet our new goals.

We'll let you know as our plans for the year develop, but I have a question.  Do you want to come along?  In the past we have presented these programs just with our staff, but now we feel it would be interesting to invite our sponsors to join us and see for yourselves the good work your money is doing.  You can see examples of some of our previous trips and photos on our website Agua Pura Para El Pueblo  Please let me know if you are interested.

Sincerely,

Tom Carter

p.s. I'm including a photo of a school hand washing program we did last year in Tultitlan, Mexico.  It was amazing to see the students stare at their clean hands, in some cases the first time they had ever washed them!

Links:

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Project Leader

Ulises Silva

Communications coordinator
Happy Valley, Oregon United States

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