By Tom Carter - Executive Director Agua Pura Para El Pueblo
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
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