It is not every day that one returns to communities in Nicaragua to witness water flowing freely where previously there was none. It is not every day, but it is this day.This day in May, Ramiro and Estrella, married 40 years, wish Change for Children a Happy 40th Anniversary — a happy coincidence they declare — as they pump water at the community well in Los Balcones before leading us the short distance to their home where they have raised ten children. When we were here a year ago, Ramiro and Estrella had led us to a shallow hole, dry and abandoned.
This day, Candida introduces us to the water committee of Sagrada Familia. She squeezes my hand and proclaims that she will no longer filter dirty water through a t-shirt to quench the thirsts of her grandsons. This had been her plight when we met only one year ago.
This day, we return to Bethel where seamstress Maria disappears into her home and brings out one by one the new dresses she has sewn since the water well was drilled in her community – since we had seen her last. On that day, she had disappeared into her home to bring out the bucket she used to retrieve water from the hole in the ground where water from an upstream community’s well was diverted for two hours, once every two days.
This day, Marie and Guadalupe, grown women with smiles so wide my own cheeks hurt in response, are the first to jump in the water spray and cool down when the new well is turned on in all its glory in Las Pilas, water flowing freely from the new holding tank at the service of the community of 1,300 people; the abundance a far cry from the dry stream bed that had made their situation dire.
This day, in Mina de Agua, with her hand clenched around mine and a firm grasp on my elbow, Maria pulls me into her home, dust swirling up from the floor with her every shuffle. In her kitchen, she beams as she motions to the spigot fixed to the block wall above the concrete wash basin. “Agua por favor?” A young girl passing by asks for water through the bars of the kitchen wall. With a twist of the spigot and a quick rinse of a dusty glass, it is Maria who obliges, but I can feel her pride.
It’s not every day that one witnesses the impact that access to water has on the everyday in northwest Nicaragua. But it is obvious on this day that the impact on the everyday is felt profoundly in these communities. Every single day.