After a long day of travel, we finally arrived in Antigua. We met up with the Healing Waters team and had dinner with the other families on the trip.
This morning we hopped in the van to travel several hours to the remote, indigenous community of La Bendicion. These people were displaced by the Guatemalan Civil war over 22 years ago and have had a Healing Waters store for two years, but electricity for only one. We arrived to a large welcome committee and were quickly given the rundown on the process for this community. La Bendicion has an entire leadership structure to manage the water store, distribution, and finances run by an inspiring woman, Gabriella. Nat and I noticed a theme through all of the speeches – sustainability. The Healing Waters team teaches about good business principles so that the project can continue to function long after Healing Waters stops maintaining the system. This specific store charges a very low monthly amount to each of the 60 families that use the clean water and the store is run by volunteers to keep the costs low.
After meeting with the community leaders, they took us on a little hike to visit the old water source and then down to a few homes that have been impacted by the clean water. At the first home, the mother told us how she is actually saving money buying the purified water because it costs less than all the wood she was buying to boil the old water. Her children were always complaining of stomach issues and that has since ceased. In the second home, we watched a woman cook lunch for her children and heard how her children didn’t like the taste of the old water so they were always dehydrated. Since the water store was installed two years ago, illness is down by over 80% in the community! We ended the visit to La Bendicion by touring the water store. Since electricity was installed after the building of the store, the system works by hand pumping the water. Nat and I got to try it out!
Today was so humbling. It was impactful to see how much of a difference Healing Waters has made to this remote community. I’m excited to visit the next site tomorrow!