Basic sanitation is a human right. But that right is not available to all. Over half the world’s population does not have access to safe sanitation and a quarter million children die each year from diarrheal disease caused by lack of safe sanitation.
Agua Pura Para El Pueblo (AGP) has always focused on things that families can do for themselves to improve their lives rather than relying on help from governments or well-meaning others. We try to work with families and communities to find solutions that will be long term, inexpensive and easily adapted by the people themselves. These solutions should meet their basic needs.
Here are some simple things that we have advocated and helped provide for families.
One way Agua Pura tries to address the issue of safe sanitation is by promoting low cost composting latrines and hand-washing as the simplest and most cost effective way to protect the health of families.
Often, water is in short supply or not conveniently available so AGP has provided simple hand-washing stations that can be placed near latrines, in areas where food is prepared or babies are cared for. Plastic buckets with a spigot that can be turned on or off as to not waste precious water. Even plastic soda bottles can provide enough water to wash hands safely. Because wash water can then be available where needed, it is more likely to be used on a regular basis.
PURIFYING DRINKING WATER
Agua Pura’s focus has always been on families having safe drinking water. Most of the drinking water in the world has never been tested for safety, and no one knows if it is safe. As the world’s population grows more and more, people have only contaminated water to rely on. Over two billion people worldwide drink water contaminated with disease causing organisms from human and animal waste.
Agua Pura has focused on things families can do now to protect themselves. Pasteurization kills disease causing bacteria and is easy to do. Temperatures need only to reach about 170 degrees , using less resources than reaching boiling water temperatures.
A simple, reusable device known as a “Water Pasteurization Indicator” or WAPI has a special wax inside that melts at 170 and shows when drinking water has reached pasteurization temperature. AGP has distributed thousands of these indicators with training and instructions on their use.
COOKING WITH SOLAR ENERGY
Cooking with wood or charcoal is depleting the world’s forests and is not sustainable. Purchasing fuel for cooking or boiling water is a major expense for families. Danger from burns and smoke inhalation from open fires are important health risks.
Use of simple solar stoves can reduce these problems. In dry sunny climates, AGP has demonstrated how to make these simple stoves using inexpensive local materials. In addition to preparing food, these stoves can easily reach temperatures adequate for pasteurizing water.
These low-cost ideas represent Agua Pura's philosophy of providing solutions to families that can protect their health and improve their lives. We thank you, our supporters and donors for your help in bringing these simple things to the many families that need them.
Would you like a WAPI for yourself to see for yourself how they work? Please write to me and I'll send you one.
Haiti has had so many problems in the last months. When I wrote to you about our work in Haiti in early August I talked about the dangers our volunteers face with political instability and violence. The President of Haiti was assassinated and travel in the country was unsafe for everyone. Then on August 14 the Southern part of Haiti was struck with a major earthquake causing many injuries and deaths. Our volunteer teams living there were affected as well with damage to their homes and injuries, but thankfully none were killed.
Right away large International aid agencies came into Haiti to help with the immediate medical, food and shelter needs of the communities. Some stayed for a few weeks , some for several months. Our small non-profit, - supported by your donations- has a different purpose. Instead of focusing on large expensive operations we focus on the individual family and the community to bring safe drinking water and long lasting sanitation to them. The earthquake damaged or destroyed many communities water systems and forced families to use unsafe, possibly contaminated water sources, so immediately after the earthquake we launched a special campaign on GlobalGiving to support our work there. In a brief period you and other donors contributed nearly $2500 to help families find ways to make their water safe to drink. GlobalGiving also gave Agua Pura a generous donation. You can read about our early organizing work on our Haiti donation page
The fundraising is over but the work has just started!
Now I can report on the first visits of our teams to affected communities.Two teams of volunteers went out, and teams were able to reach some affected communities that were cut off by the earthquake. by motorbike. When they were able to get through, they brought some immediately needed supplies and also were able to help community members restore damaged springs and other water sources. They also talked to the families about how they can protect themselves from water borne diseases.
Now our teams will be returning several more times in the next months to continue their work. They will be testing the water sources for contamination and sharing water purification supplies. We expect to continue our work with earthquake victims for at least another year. I’m sharing a few pictures of our volunteers. They are proud of the work they do and grateful for your continued support.
We share stories about our work when we can but we only try to ask you for help just once a year. We know you have many responsibilities and we don't want to take advantage of your generosity. But because we are small and all volunteers every dollar has a big impact on our ability to provide life saving help to the families we serve. Can you help us with a year end charitable donation
In the last months and years Haiti has suffered a number of disasters, natural and man made. Earthquakes and hurricanes seem like they purposely strike the poorest country in Latin America. Cholera, Aids and now Covid have all punished them as well. Travel restrictions have prevented us from traveling there but through it all Agua Pura’s young Haitian volunteers have gone on with their programs to help their neighbors. We continued to provide them with funds and supplies and other support as best we could and looked forward to the time when we can visit again in person.
Now Haiti has suffered another setback with the murder of its President. With this latest political unrest we have begun to worry about the safety of our young friends. We absolutely do not want them to endanger themselves to carry on our programs. I have personally spoken with them and they tell me that for now they are safe. Most of the political violence occurs in the Capital and not in the rest of the country where they live. I have told them to stay safe and to let us know what we can do to help.
We hope that with time the situation will improve and they will be able to continue their work, but for now we can only stand by and offer support. Agua Pura may try to provide some financial support to these young volunteers and we would welcome any support that our generous GlobalGiving supporters want to give. Please write to me directly with any questions or concerns you have.
What if you had to choose between water to drink and water to wash your hands? What if water was really expensive and difficult to obtain? What if you were trying to protect your family from diseases like Covid-19? This is a terrible choice facing families throughout the world. With water so precious, families can’t afford to waste it. With the strong support from donors like you, Agua Pura has fought for over 10 years to help families have safe drinking water and the ability to protect themselves against disease. And, when the Covid-19 pandemic started, it only increased the urgency to provide that help. One simple solution we have provided is a large bucket that families can fill with non-potable water to use for hand washing with soap near a latrine or kitchen. It has a tap so that water can be dispensed slowly and not wasted. Families can then catch that wash water to water their gardens. When these hand washing stations are placed near a latrine they are used and families stay healthier and more protected against disease. In Mexico we started a campaign last fall to provide hand washing stations to vulnerable families in several parts of the country. Thanks to GlobalGiving donors, over 200 families- with more than 1300 women and children- have received the stations along with soap and locally made face masks. Community health workers distribute the supplies along with health programs for the families. When schools reopen in Mexico, we will expand our program to provide hand washing stations for them as well. Thank you again for your continued support over the last 10 years, and I hope that we continue working together in the years ahead.
Please let me know your opinions and ideas, I really appreciate hearing from you, our donors.
Dear friends and supporters- I want to share a quick update on our recent hurricane relief work. I recently wrote you about effects of the hurricanes that hit Central America last month. One community in Honduras that we have visited often was especially hard hit with their community water system destroyed and the families drinking water from the local streams., but with your support we were able to start helping rebuild their water system better and stronger than before. Unfortunately, the hurricanes and flooding damaged many communities throughout the region, including ones that Agua Pura knows well in Southern Mexico. GlobalGiving granted Agua Pura emergency funds to help with relief work and so we applied some of the grant money and $3000 more of your donations to helping families in 3 traditional Mayan speaking communities that were flooded and many homes destroyed. We worked through a local non profit, Diaconia Chiapas, whose members live and work in the area. They were well organized and quickly mobilized to provide emergency help to affected families with children and the elderly, including food aid and sanitary supplies such as soap and face masks. Though this is just temporary aid, it made a huge difference to the families that received it. After the flood waters subside and the families start rebuilding, Agua Pura will be there with them to assist with clean water and safe sanitation, and your continued support will make it possible. We thank you for your generosity and will keep you informed of our progress.
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