Clean water means health, income and education—especially for women and children in Guatemala. Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren’t strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and numerous other illnesses.
In most developing countries, women and children are responsible for walking to collect water for their families. This may take up to hours in some communities. Along their long walk, they may be subjected to a greater risk of harassment, assault, accidents and wild animals. Time spent walking and the resulting diseases keep the children from school and the mothers from being able to care for their families.
Water in this area often comes from natural springs. Getting up the hill to the springs takes a lot of time (40 minutes in the case of Antiguo Xonca) and requires going up and down narrow paths that can be dangerous in many ways.
In Antigua Xonca the leadership of the community and Food for the Hungry (FH) Guatemala were able to identify several issues and needs affecting the development of the community, such as a lack of portable water, conflicts between groups and lack of interest in the education and health of the children.
After assessing each need, the community and FH together addressed the lack of clean drinking water. Too many children became sick with diarrhea and did not grow well due to the consumption of contaminated water. The 40-minute walk by the mothers and school children in Antigua Xonca to get water for drinking, put them in danger and caused many children to no longer regularly attend school.
A partnership between the community, FH and Faith Chapel Church of the U.S. resulted in a long-awaited Portable Water Construction Project. Even with many obstacles to overcome, the leadership and the community remained united and strong with the assistance from FH and the Emergency Committee.
The community built a very large cement tank high on a hill that captures the water as it comes out of the spring and stores it. Then they can run water pipes down hill, using gravity to bring the water down into the village where people can gather it much more easily.
Financial contributions from each of the families was used for payment of the technical water study, unskilled labor and other material required for the project. The water capture tank and distribution tanks were completed within six months. All of this possible because leadership organized the people for special jobs. Some hauled stone, sand, iron, rebar and cement, while others dug trenches and cut wood.
To get this task done, everyone helped, and here is the result: women washing clothes from the water spout in town, while others get clean water to drink.
Although water often comes from natural springs in this area, getting up the hill to the springs takes a long time and requires going up and down narrow paths that can be dangerous in so many ways. With the new cement tank that captures the water as it comes out of the spring and then stores it, the water now runs down the hill through pipes using gravity to arrive in the village. The people can now gather the water from a spout that is centrally located in the community.
Each person in Antigua Xonca is thankful for the love and concern shown to them by FH and Faith Chapel. Don Pedro Cobo, chairman of the Emergency Committee for the water project, said, “Thank God for FH, because they do all things for God. May God continue to bless you for the ideas that you bring us, and Faith Chapel Church for help in the water project. Our dream is to see the project completed so that our children grow up healthy and go to school.”
There are many thirsty communities who need and deserve clean water for consumption. As you take a drink of water from your faucet perhaps you would like to help others have that same experience. To learn more about how you can help just click here.