Transform 1,000 lives with clean water in Honduras

by Un Mundo
Transform 1,000 lives with clean water in Honduras
Transform 1,000 lives with clean water in Honduras
Transform 1,000 lives with clean water in Honduras
Transform 1,000 lives with clean water in Honduras
Transform 1,000 lives with clean water in Honduras
Transform 1,000 lives with clean water in Honduras
Transform 1,000 lives with clean water in Honduras
Transform 1,000 lives with clean water in Honduras
Gladys outside her home
Gladys outside her home

Cooking dinner, taking a bath, ensuring that your children’s clothes are clean — there are countless basic daily tasks for which water is a necessity. For people in the small Honduran community of El Pital, these tasks become challenges when the existing water system leaves them without a drop coming from the tap. As local resident Doña Gladys explains, El Pital’s population has increased significantly in recent decades and has outgrown its old water source, and “we need a more powerful water system that will be able to bring water to everyone.” Rather than feeling discouraged, Gladys envisions a nearby future in which families in this community will not only have enough water throughout the year for daily chores but also be able to have uncontaminated, drinkable water flowing to their homes for the first time.

“The community, and especially I, feel very motivated. I’m happy and grateful because water is incredibly important for our households,” Gladys says of the Clean Water project that Un Mundo has been facilitating since 2011. This past summer, student volunteers from Duke University helped to construct a grey-water filtration system that purifies the waste water of 27 homes, and next summer this same student group will begin construction of a system that will bring clean water to as may as 90 households. “I know that, if all of us in the community join together and contribute to the water project and make the goals a reality, we’re going to be a great example for all of the surrounding communities,” Gladys says with glimmering eyes. “With a better water system, we’re going to be a much better developed community than we once were.”

Though she is consummately humble, Gladys cannot hide her pride in her six children, all of whom are kind, intelligent, and hardworking, and one of whom is the community’s only college graduate. Her commitment to helping see the water project through to fruition is for her children, she explains: “It’s for this future generation that I give my all. When these projects come to our community, I feel happy, contented, motivated, and grateful to God for giving me my children and enabling me to help them benefit from the project. This is what motivates me to move forward every day.” One of her teenaged daughters smiles shyly from the kitchen, where she’s sweeping the dirt floor in her high school uniform before sitting down to begin her homework.

El Pital’s water project is well underway but will require a mighty effort in the months to come, and it’s the support of donors like you that helps us all to keep the kind of hope that Gladys has as we strive to make the dream of clean water for the community a reality. Please help us to spread the word about our shared dream, and consider donating to the water project again if you’re able. Additionally, keep your eye out for opportunities to contribute on Giving Tuesday, December 1 — sign up for our email list on our website or Facebook if you haven’t already. From Gladys, her kids, Un Mundo, and all of the people in El Pital, thank you from the bottom of our hearts, and have a very happy Thanksgiving!

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Jensy helps set piping for the grey-water system
Jensy helps set piping for the grey-water system

In the face of great challenges, inaction is a normal response. We all know what it feels like to stare at a fearsome problem and want to save ourselves the trouble of failing. The initiative of forward-looking leaders, however, is often all that is needed to spur the rest of us into action.

Jensy Rodriguez, a 28-year-old resident of El Pital, is one such leader. The lack of a sustainable, healthy water source for the community is a problem that to many seems insurmountable, in part due to the absence of government support for constructing an effective system. But Jensy and other members of El Pital’s Water Board are ensuring that community members band together to find a reliable way of bringing drinkable water into their homes.

Since 2010, Un Mundo has been supporting the Water Board in taking steps to address this large-scale issue. Currently, thanks to the help of engineering students from Duke University in June of this year, the Board is in the process of setting up a grey-water filtration system so that wastewater from El Pital’s houses doesn’t pollute the Cangrejal River. In the upcoming years, the Board’s goals include increasing the number of dry composting toilets in the community, reforesting the site of the mountain spring that will serve as the new water source, and continuing to raise public awareness of how to prevent water-borne illnesses. Ultimately, by 2020, the group plans to have constructed a fully functional system that will bring plentiful, clean water to all houses in El Pital.

“I enjoy working on the water project because I love my community. This is where I was born, this is where I grew up, and this is where I am now, and I want to work for my community so that it can have better water service,” says Jensy, who joined the Water Board just under a year ago. The work is challenging; sometimes the Board puts long hours into organizing fundraising events, and sometimes unforeseen obstacles complicate project work. Nevertheless, Jensy says, the cooperation of the Water Board members and other people in the community is what makes it all seem doable: “One of the things I’ve learned is how important teamwork is. I think that working as a team lightens the load; having one person doing everything by themselves is tiring and just doesn’t work.”

Jensy knows that the road to completing the water project won’t be easy, but she has faith that she and her teammates will be able to achieve their common goals. Once the new water system is in place, she says, “many more houses will benefit” from a more extensive system, and  “I think we’re going to have water that’s much better for our health.”

Thanks to the generosity of donors like you, Jensy and the rest of the Water Board will be able to continue working toward their dream of a healthier, more sustainable water supply for El Pital. Please consider making another contribution to this vitally important project, and thank you for joining us in believing in this vision!

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Pablino with group
Pablino with group

This month the Water Board in El Pital is gearing up to welcome their new engineer partners, Duke Engineers for International Development (DEID) for their first visit. The Water Board with the guidance of DEID will be constructing trash receptacles throughout the community and systems to filter household waste water. The goal of these micro-projects is to help reduce contamination and standing water throughout the community. Additionally, DEID and the Water Board will be finalizing the plans for the water distribution project which will bring drinkable water to approximately 1000 people.

The El Pital water initiative is a multi-faceted effort to bring clean drinkable water to its residents, while also reducing water contamination and increasing forest conservation/reforestation efforts for the regional watershed and its surroundings.

Pablino, Vice President of the Water Board, reported that in a recent Water Board planning meeting the group discussed the challenges they face engaging the larger community given the lengthy timeline of the project, “People in our community are not used to planning for the future; they are accustomed to live day to day. For that reason, it can be hard for folks to justify investing in a project that they may not see the results of for many years."

“But we (Water Board) continue to stay involved, no matter how long it takes, because we understand the importance of planning, and we want to do this project correctly and well so that it will last for many years in the future. We learned our lesson the hard way with the potable water project that the community built back in the early 1990’s. There was no planning, no thinking about the future, and we got it done too quickly. It was not very long before the system could no longer support the growth of the community, and property owners surrounding the water source began cutting and burning trees causing the water source to be contaminated and less abundant.”

Pablino (sunglasses) with Fundacion Nombre de Dios
Pablino (sunglasses) with Fundacion Nombre de Dios
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Dry toilets
Dry toilets

In the Cangrejal Region, water is a precious resource, especially in communities like El Pital. While most community members in El Pital have faucets on their properties, the water quantity is often limited and quality is not adequate for drinking. The present water system was constructed in the early 1990’s and designed for only 16 families. Currently there are over 90 households and only about half are connected to the current system. With such taxation on the existing system, Un Mundo, Engineers Without Borders (EWB), Duke Engineers for International Development (DEID) and the local Water Board have teamed up to develop a new water system, in addition to supporting the community with other methods for managing human and solid waste. In the past few months we have made advances in building capacity with the local Water Board by conducting regular community trash clean-up, recruiting new members, increasing the monthly water quota, and obtaining legal incorporation as a recognized local organization. Additionally, the full topography study was recently completed and data compiled by the Water Board, local community members and Un Mundo staff. With this information, EWB and DEID are currently in the process of developing the designs for the new water system which should be complete in the next few months.

Elias, the son of the Water Board President said, “This project is the most important of all the projects we have embarked on as a community because it affects every single person in our community. Water is life. In order to survive we all need water for every element of our lives. Because we live in a watershed, we have never seen water as a scarce resource. However, now with limitations on water, sicknesses, climate change, and a growing community, we are beginning to learn the importance of investing to have quality water, which will in turn improve our own quality of life.”

The Water Connections Program helps children and families in the Cangrejal Valley in Honduras get access to clean drinking water and improved sanitation to reduce the number of child deaths due to contaminated water. Local communities develop a sustainable community-run clean water system that also includes composting toilets, rainwater drainage and water re-usal systems.

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Organization Information

Un Mundo

Location: Menlo Park, CA - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Amanda Blewitt
Mountain View, CA United States
$7,986 raised of $7,500 goal
188 donations
$0 to go
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