In late March, all of us at Caminos de Agua were excited to launch a week of events to celebrate World Water Day. Our featured guest had purchased plane tickets to fly to San Miguel de Allende from the US, venues were rented, a full publicity campaign had been developed in the months leading up to the event and we had recently organized a press conference to publicize events.
And then it all came to a halt.
The municipal government, who was a partner in our events, announced that no public events were to be held until further notice. We rushed to cancel everything and reached out to people that had purchased tickets to some of the events. Everyone was supportive and understanding and once that was done we huddled to figure out how we would redirect our work to meet the new reality and challenges related to water in times of COVID-19. Our lives have not been the same since and we have moved into a different era of communicating and doing our work.
World Health Organization recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus call for hand washing several times a day as well as cleaning surfaces and items that come into our home. While this seems a reasonable approach to many it is not feasible for at least half of the population in Mexico and a great number of the rural communities we serve in the region of central Mexico where we do our work. We also had to accept the fact that many of these communities have limited access to reliable sources of information to help them deal with the pandemic.
In record time we developed a communications network using channels used by many in these communities such as WhatsApp groups and Facebook. We also contacted the grassroots organizations we work within these communities and asked for their advice. We developed a series of online workshops and materials with valuable information so that communities with little access to water could do the following:
Build a hand washing station, called a Tippy Tap, which has allowed many all over the world to wash their hands multiple times with only a gallon of water.
How to build an emergency rainwater harvesting system to supplement the limited amount of water available.
How to prepare hand sanitizing solution to readily available ingredients; and
Remind families that already have a rainwater harvesting system of the maintenance required before the arrival of the rainy season which is due to start soon.
We also reached out to our loyal friends in a targeted fundraising campaign and were overwhelmed by their generous response.
We have developed new and timely education materials, created communications channels using platforms used by communities with little internet access, and trained staff to help those at risk communities increase their access to water and prevent the spread of the virus in their families and communities. All of this was done thanks to your generosity and willingness to support our work.
We will be busy in the coming months with new initiatives with local government and major foundations. We are also on track to test our Groundwater Treatment System which has been years in development at a community level. This solution has the potential to help countless communities in our region, elsewhere in Mexico and worldwide.
Thanks to you we are in a good position to help and do more. As always, your support is needed and appreciated, but at this time we want to take the opportunity to thank you and acknowledge all that your contributions make possible.
Much of the support we get from GlobalGiving comes from recurring donations. We know who you are, we are familiar with your names by now, and we welcome your loyal support every month. We hope that at this time you and your loved ones are well and safe. You are an important part of the Caminos de Agua family and we take this opportunity for helping us through when we needed it most.
We encourage all of you to share news of what Caminos de Agua is doing in response to COVID-19 with family and friends who may not know about our work. Information about our new online workshops and materials is available through our website and YouTube channel. Have a look and reach out to us if you have any questions or comments.
To say we are stronger because of you may sound like a marketing tagline, but it is the truth and a sincere statement of how we feel at this time. This response and our continuing work would not be possible without your support.
We will continue to update you on our work and latest initiatives. Rainwater harvesting is still a priority and your contributions are helping us extend our reach. We invite you to take a look at the materials and videos our great communications team developed in-house in record time.
On behalf of the entire Caminos de Agua team, once again, ¡MUCHAS GRACIAS!
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