What do you do when a global pandemic hits and suddenly, not only are water teams unable to come to your country, the partner conference you’d planned for later in the year has to be canceled, and you can no longer travel inside your country to visit the Operating Partners (OPs) entrusted to your care? That was the question facing our Guatemala network, along with others, last March when the Guatemala government enacted strict travel restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Their answer after much consideration about how our OPs consume information and what avenues were available to them was to create a YouTube channel. According to Claudia Dolinga, the Guatemala country coordinator for Living Waters for the World (LWW), the team met and considered what they could do to stay in contact with their OPs and to continue the education and information sharing that normally occurs at the regional partner conferences and the “LWW Guatemala” YouTube channel was born.
YouTube was chosen because it’s easy to use; it is an app that everyone knows and is used to using; and the videos are easily viewable on different devices. It’s a good way to engage our partners and that they would be comfortable asking questions about what was presented or commenting on the videos because they were made by people with faces they know.
After a call with Doug Depies, an in-country coordinator (ICC) for LWW’s Yucatan network, and an experienced videographer, the team was up and running and quickly on the way to producing videos. Using basic tools like cell phones, tripods, and microphones the Guatemala network team has been busy creating videos that cover topics such as the importance of the water committee, water testing, health education, and operations and maintenance procedures.
The goal is to keep lines of communication open and information flowing that helps keep our partners motivated and operating in this time when purified water is so critical to the health of communities. The network team meets regularly to discuss topics of interest for upcoming videos and the in-country director, coordinators, and technicians create the videos (in Spanish) with Claudia acting as the video editor.
When asked what the videos mean for OPs and for LWW’s network staff personally, Rubenia Sanchez, ICC for the western regions of Guatemala, said, “The OPs have been grateful for the information, especially where there are new people working on a project and it has connected us more with them. Now they are more familiar with our faces. For me, it has been a blessing to be able to teach others in different ways and we have grown because we are thinking in new ways. It has been an amazing experience. The last thing I thought I would be doing is making videos, but it has been fun.”
Overall the coronavirus pandemic has had a silver lining in that it’s causing LWW to review how it operates and to come up with new ways of interacting with both OPs and IPs and we are seeing our networks adapt to our new reality and to share and implement solutions across network boundaries. We are blessed that God has called such capable and adaptable people who are willing to share their talents and to learn new ways of reaching out so that the LWW ministry continues to impact people's live – more so now than ever.