Guatemalan Communities Protect Health
From rural villages to larger cities, Living Waters for the World (LWW) water purification systems are providing life-saving clean water and health education across Guatemala.
One LWW water system provides clean water for the mountain village of Hoja Blanca, home to approximately 2,400 people. Rubenia Sanchez, in-country coordinator for LWW in Guatemala, said, “The system has been a huge blessing in the community. All of their water sources are contaminated, even the springs. They don’t have a sewage system, and they have a lot animal waste and also agriculture waste.” Through a process of filtration, micro filtration and disinfection, their LWW water purification system makes their water safe to drink. The photo on the left includes Edilzar and Tomas, water system operators in Aldea Hoja Blanca, cleaning and disinfecting bottles before filling.
The village is located in the highlands of Huehuetenango and exists because of a coffee plantation which employs 95% of the population. The village is so remote that it can only be accessed by a 4-wheel drive vehicle. It is also so remote that the novel coronavirus has not yet reached it. Even so, the local water system operators and health educators are helping their community stay ahead of the threat.
Water system operators and health educators have been following all of the recommendations issued by the Guatemalan government during the pandemic. They have also been promoting safe practices across their community, particularly hand-washing. They taught a lesson in the school using LWW’s health education curriculum, and they delivered flyers about how to avoid COVID-19 with proper hand-washing.
A resident of Aldea Hoja Blanca reads the flyer on preventing COVID-19
Each week they deliver 1,400 gallons of purified water throughout the village. Water system operators drive through town in a pickup truck loaded with five-gallon bottles of clean water. They play Christian music from a large speaker mounted on the roof. When people hear the music, they get their bottles ready to exchange. Rubenia said, “They know the Living Water is coming.” Water system operators and health educators in Aldea Hoja Blanca have a history of going above and beyond to serve their community. They have given profits from the sale of water to the local clinic to support care for people that cannot afford to pay for medicine. They have also invested in a project to improve a soccer field for the youth.
Children receive their family's delivery of water bottles from Hoja Blanca's water purification system
Rubenia said, “Many times I have heard, Matthew 10:8, Freely we have received, freely we will give. They are serving from the bottom of their hearts. They know how great the LWW mission team’s love was for their community that they decided to go this remote village just to make this important contribution. They are following the LWW model, an integral model that is about relationships and taking care of one another.” Living Waters for the World trains and supports volunteer mission teams like the one from Elizabethtown, Ky., that partnered with Aldea Hoja Blanca. LWW mission teams partner with international communities to train community members on the installation and maintenance of a water purification system. They also teach a health education curriculum emphasizing the important uses of clean water and proper hand washing. Relationships are the heart of these mission partnerships that seek to empower the community to take control of their health and future with the gift of clean water.
In the larger city of Retalhuleu, Guatemala, water system operators and health educators at a local school, Colegio Sinai, are also making a life-changing difference. Colegio Sinai has its sanitary license which enables them to deliver water wherever it is needed. This is critical at a time when people are not allowed to leave their homes and non-essential travel is restricted. As more people have become aware of the importance of safe drinking water and hand washing, more people want water from Colegio Sinai. To meet the demand, they are purifying and delivering over 10,000 gallons of water every week (the photo above is the Colegio Sinai truck loaded with clean water for delivery). They serve every day from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and have requested permission to continue serving during curfew. Colegio Sinai also provides clean water for the national police officers and traffic police officers in Retalhuleu. These officers are responsible for enforcing pandemic-related restrictions and protecting public health. The water system operators feel the importance of their responsibility to provide the clean water that protects the health of these public servants. Rubenia said, “I see God working in all of them a process of learning, growing, changing, trying to improve their lives and others as well.”
Diego (right), the water system operator for Colegio Sinai, delivers clean water to the Traffic Police in Retalhuleu
Thanks to the mission teams who partnered with these communities and all who support Living Waters for the World, Aldea Hoja Blanca and Colegio Sinai are empowered with the tools they need to serve in times like this.