As we drive toward Leon, Pedro, a water systems engineer who works for the local organization with which Change for Children partners, explains some of the challenges of delivering water to small communities. Pedro is patient as I practice my spanish, although most of what he says gets translated. Where words elude, much hand gesturing takes over, and on more than a few occasions, his passion for his work takes over and there are no hands on the wheel (or eyes on the road) at all. (This does not scare me, however, as it is not nearly as frightening as stopping on the highway and reversing uphill in the lane to stop yet again in the middle of traffic to pick up a hat that has blown off in the wind…).
We visit two of the most recent communities/villages that have received water wells as a result of the support of Change for Children and its donors. Each of the communities is now self-sustaining from a water perspective through the formation of community-run Water Committees. Given that they used to have to travel – sometimes several times a day – great distances to retrieve buckets of water from often contaminated open-well sources, a convenient water source piped to individual homes has indeed changed lives.
It is a source of health, a source of empowerment, and a source of pride for La Esperanza. Members of the Water Committee include women who have been empowered to take on new roles and contribute to the community in new ways. One of these women is Laura, the Treasurer of the water committee. In order to maintain the well system, she collects about $1 a month from each of the beneficiary families.The community of Lesperanza is located at the end of a dusty, rocky dirt road that sees little traffic, and by the way we are tossed around inside the truck as we navigate it, I am tempted to demote its classification to a 4 by 4 trail. There is no power in this community (the ground is too hard and it is too far off the beaten path to make electricity an economically feasible option). It has been one year since the installation of a water well with a solar pump started bringing clean, safe, reliable drinking water to this community of about 200 people.
Other members of the Water Committee, including the woman who serves as Coordinator and the man who is charged with regularly climbing the hill to the holding tank to make sure things are running efficiently, are anxious to visit with us and report on the improved health of their children and the improved quality of life for the community.
Says beaming community member, Jose, “Water is life.”