The following is an interview with Daniela Vargas, who lives in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and was recently asked to be a translator for a Living Waters for the World visiting trip and conference of the Yucatan Network.
Q: How much did you know about Living Waters for the World when Doug Depies, a coordinator for the Yucatan network of Living Waters for the World, asked you to travel with a team to visit water systems and attend the annual network conference?
A: I just had an idea because I’d heard of one of the water systems in a nearby town, but I was not really well informed about how Living Waters for the World worked. When Doug Depies invited me to translate for some site visits, I checked it out on the website.
Q: What surprised you most about the water systems that you visited?
A: I was really surprised about the hard work that Living Waters is doing, and how the community is impacted by the purified water! I did not realize that people in my own country were drinking unsafe water; I was shocked by this and could not believe it at first.
Q: Did the operators of the water systems appear to enjoy their work, and take pride in it?
A: Yes, for sure, they were really happy helping others, you can see it in their faces and by how they talk about doing this; they really do their best to keep the water systems well maintained.
Q: What differences did you observe among the various water plants you visited? And what similarities did you see among them?
A: Some operators are facing problems with the administration, some are better maintained than others, some have created new ideas for improving and increasing distribution of water. The similarity is that all of them have the standard information and they are really impacting the communities.
Q: Do you think that the water plants you visited are (or will soon be) self-sustaining? Growing?
A: Yes, I think they are learning how to be self-sufficient; it is a process, but they are on their way.
Q: What most impressed you about the ministry of Living Waters for the World?
A: That you are volunteers! People just coming to Mexico for help and give their time, resources, etc. - that is really amazing. And all the infrastructure for helping others to install the systems.
Q: At the annual conference, did you sense a spirit of eagerness to sustain and improve the water plants? What occurred during the conference that indicated the goal of sustainability?
A: Yes, operators are eager to learn more, you can see that they are seeking strategies or ideas to solve their problems in order to sustain and improve the water plants.
Q: Living Waters for the World strives to be equal partners with those who operate and maintain the water systems. Was a sense of partnership obvious to you?
A: Yes, indeed!
Q: What role do you think the network plays in helping the water plants to improve and be self-sustaining?
A: I think it is a big and important role, because a single water plant needs help with its struggles; the network provides support, encouragement, and technical skills.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about what you observed, with your “fresh eyes”?
A: It seemed to me that most of the operators need more knowledge in the business area, and it would be great if they can receive more training in this area to face the day to day problems.
Congratulations for all the hard work you are doing! I hope to continue to be engaged with Living Waters for the World!