Nov 27, 2019

Dangerous times in Haiti

Learning about composting and organic gardening
Learning about composting and organic gardening

Wherever we go, no matter what the economic or political conditions, we meet people who are optimistic about the future and enthusiastic to improve their lives and the lives of their neighbors.  This is the ongoing story of one such person whom you have supported with your generous donations.

I first met Hovard when he was a student of mine in an Environmental Technology college program here in the US.  He was Haitian and had won a two year scholarship through USAID to study things like recycling, composting and organic gardening. I got to teach him and the other students about issues of water and sanitation. He was eager and bright and focused on things that he could do when he returned home, as an entrepreneur and also to help his country.


When he returned to Haiti he immediately started Haiti Compost Business to promote recycling and composting, things very seldom done there. He formed teams of young people throughout Haiti to test the drinking water for contamination and help communities learn how to make it safe. Several years ago Hovard invited Agua Pura to come to Haiti to help him with his programs of clean water and sanitation. Since then your donations have supported his work by providing money and testing and purification materials for him and his teams. Over the last few years Hovard with your help has had a number of successful projects affecting numerous communities and hundreds of families.

Now, new political and economic unrest is increasing in Haiti, and has made it difficult and potentially dangerous to  work and travel.  Gasoline is in short supply and there are road blocks and robberies.  For their own safety Agua Pura has asked Hovard to suspend his teams work until the situation improves.


 Also however there is a developing refugee crisis on the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic where families have been trapped. Unrest, prejudice and political issues between the two countries have left  people from both countries stuck, homeless and in bad conditions. The situation is  desperate but we are trying to work on a plan to reach the families and bring water purification supplies in early January. We won’t endanger the teams but Hovard will try to join us if he can safely.


We are proud of Hovard and proud of the work we have done together, and this new challenge. Our resources are already stretched but we feel it is our duty to help if we can.  Your past support has helped us continue our programs in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and elsewhere, and to help Hovard with his important projects as well.  Thank you so much for that support!  I hope in this Giving Season you will choose to continue supporting us and Hovard and the work we are doing to bring safe drinking water to families throughout Latin America.

Sincerely, Tom Carter

p.s. If you have a suggestion or comment or you want to reach me, my email address is:

tom@aguapuraparaelpueblo.org

Enthusiastic volunteer teams
Enthusiastic volunteer teams
Sep 5, 2019

Safe Drinking Water To A Community In Chiapas

Children in Articulo 27
Children in Articulo 27

Community “Articulo 27” is  small, new village in the mountains of Southern Mexico.  About 30 families live on what was once a cattle ranch. They try to do some farming but the soil is poor. Often the men have to go elsewhere to find work leaving the families behind.  Unfortunately, their water supply is badly contaminated due to years of neglect and cattle trampling the springs, and the children are often sick.

In July, Agua Pura was asked to come to Articulo 27 to help them to have safe drinking water. When we got there the first thing we did was to test the water for bacterial contamination. Our assays are very accurate but simple to use and we teach the community members how to do the testing themselves.

In the photo there are two circular plates that have a special growth media that detects E. coli and other bacteria in water.  E. coli bacteria are always an indicator of contamination, where E. coli is present other disease causing organisms may also be there. In the circle on the left are red and blue spots and white gas bubbles.  The red spots are normal bacteria found in the air and water. The many blue spots are colonies of E. coli bacteria, showing that their drinking water was highly contaminated and dangerous.

After we tested the water and saw the contamination we had a meeting with the community in their church and showed them the results.  We also gave a presentation about how bacteria cause disease and how they can be eliminated. There are many ways that water can be made safe to drink, including boiling, filtering and the use of disinfectants like chlorine. A method we advocate is Pasteurization, heating the water high enough to kill the bacteria but not boiling. A Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI) is a small reusable thermometer that shows when the water is pasteurized and safe to drink.

In the photo, the right hand circle shows the same contaminated water after pasteurization using a WAPI as an indicator.  It is completely clear, showing that all the bacteria have been killed. The families could see that pasteurization made their water safe to drink. All the families received a WAPI and training in how to use it. Since they saw the contamination themselves they agreed that they had to always pasteurize their water before drinking it.

Once water is purified it has to be protected against recontamination by storing it in a safe, clean container like the one in the picture. We showed how these safe storage containers can be easily made or purchased.
Finally, simple hand washing after using the latrine or before handling food can also help stop disease.  We showed easy ways that people can have a place to wash their hands near their latrine or in their cooking areas.

What we did in the community of Articulo 27 was similar to our programs in many communities throughout Latin America. We work directly with the  families to offer them simple solutions to protect their health. What we do is inexpensive but life saving, and it is the continued support of donors like you that make it possible for us to continue.  THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!
Please, if you want more information or we can help you in some way, please contact me directly.

Tom Carter

Bacteria growing on plates
Bacteria growing on plates
Families learning about safe water
Families learning about safe water
Demonstrating how the WAPI works
Demonstrating how the WAPI works
Safe Water Storage
Safe Water Storage
Hand Washing Station
Hand Washing Station
Jun 11, 2019

A quick report from the field

Beautiful green Chiapas
Beautiful green Chiapas

Greetings from Mexico City!
Our team of volunteers is in the city preparing for upcoming projects here and in Chiapas State in Southern Mexico. The next few weeks are going to be busy and productive as we continue programs we have worked on before.
On Saturday, June 15, we are attending a celebration of a nice new set of latrines for a school and community center we have supported for many years.  The new latrines for the boys and girls will be clean and secure and have running water for them to wash their hands.  The community members came together to build the latrines and will be celebrating with us.

It was your financial and moral support over the years that made the completion of this project possible.

On Sunday we are going to have a reunion for some of our Mexican friends who have helped us. Over the past 10 years we have had many volunteers us with our projects, they are proud to help their communities and their countries. They are young adults who have come from many different parts of the country to participate. They help with the teaching and translating  and often speak special dialects and languages.  Because of their training, after we return home they continue the programs benefiting their communities. It should be a pleasant afternoon.

Then on next morning we leave for Chiapas for two weeks of programs working with partner organizations.  We have visited there before and will be following up on previous projects.  We will  visit small communities and show how to test the water for contamination and how to make it safe. Families will learn simple ways to keep their children healthy.  We also work with local schools to make sure they have safe water and sanitation for their students.  On your map of Southern Mexico we will first be in San Cristobal de las Casas, then in Ocosingo in the mountains and finally spending several days in Palenque near the famous Mayan ruins. It’s a fascinating and culturally rich part of Mexico and we always enjoy the friendly greetings we receive.

With luck and internet connections I will try to give you an update from Chiapas while we are there.
Again, as always, your contributions are what has kept us going. 

As we say:  Agua Pura Para El Pueblo, una familia a la vez. 
Tom

Learning about their drinking water
Learning about their drinking water
Our Volunteers
Our Volunteers
 
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.