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  • Welcome Hand

Family to Family Water Storage Project

This morning, after considering my hike up the mountain yesterday, I felt that I just had to do something about the letter from the Board of the La Libertad community, asking for help for water tanks for their homes. As I was coming down off the mountain I had such a strong feeling that I needed to do something. Gady came over, and I asked her to call Darwin (Municipality Manager) so I could talk to him about my concerns for the people on the mountain. Darwin was in his office, and available, and asked me to come over to talk about it. As it turned out, he also had Edgar, Director Public Services (over water issues), and his Assistant, Jose Lopez, in the office.

The meeting with Darwin was really helpful. I showed him the letter, and he read it. I told him I knew that the Cahabon District was about 83% people in poverty, and over 50% were in extreme poverty. I knew that I couldn't solve all the problems, but I felt like I had to do something. (I had previously been told that if I answered the request of the people in the letter that every person who had a problem would be presenting me with a letter.)

I told Darwin about an experience we had about 8 years ago when we were here, in Guatemala, doing some humanitarian work. We provided some water filters and stoves, but the people had to pay half of the cost. I said it was good for people to help themselves as much as possible.

I showed Darwin and Edgar a picture, that I took yesterday, of a house that was catching water in barrels below a roof that was bent so the water would come off into the barrels. Since there is so much rain here, and we know the rain is clean, it seemed like a good idea to explore the idea of catching rain to put into barrels. Darwin, Edgar and Josea talked about it, and decided they could buy a "canal" to put along the roof, to catch the water, and a small/medium barrel to store the water, for about Q.300. But that was only for a canal about a meter long. So I suggested we get a longer canal, and consider a cost of Q.350. I thought we should pay 250 (Welcome Hand), and the homeowner should pay Q.100. Our Q.250 would be equal to about $39. Darwin decided to talk to Glendy, the Women's Office, and see what she thought, and plan a meeting with the Board of La Libertad. So that meeting was set for next Tuesday at 2:00 pm. They suggested that we not pay for anything else with these houses, since water is very important, and we need to reserve the money for this project (dishes, beds or tables damaged in the big storm). Of course, we don't know how many people will want to pay the Q.100 in order to have us pay the Q.250 to help them get a water storage. We will have to wait and see what the Board thinks when we meet next Tuesday.

Here are some paragraphs of the letter from the La Libertad Board (translated from Spanish by Gady Guarez):

1. Our neighborhood was established 20 years ago. At the moment it does not have the necessary services for a suitable development.

2. The families living in the neighborhood have no potable water and this important liquid is vital for individuals. Due to the lack of water housewives are the most affected ones.

3. The wells that we use to get water get dry when there is no rain. That is why in this letter we REQUEST that with good will you provide us with a water tank for water so we can help each and everyone of the families in the neighborhood since we do not have access to water.

We make this request because in these moments we have economic problems and we do not have the means to get a water tank.


Tuesday, October 19th

Today we met with the Board of the La Libertad community. There were also four members from the Municipality, including Darwin, the Municipality Manager, and Glendy, Director of the Women's Office. After explaining the possible project of providing a 55 gallon water barrel and a 5 meters of a "canal" ( a drain pipe to gather rain along the roof, and deliver water to the barrel).

At first, Darwin said the cost would be Q.300. He said that we (Welcome Hand) would pay Q.200, and we expected the owner of the home to pay Q.100. I worried that 5 meters of the canal (about 15 feet) would be enough, and asked them about that. The Board said they wanted it to be the same for everyone. If the family needed more the community would try to help them get more. Some families might even need less. But, they were worried that some of the most needy families couldn't pay the Q.100. We talked about it for a while, and then I said that we would pay Q.250, and the family could pay Q.50. But, if they needed more canal they could pay for it themselves. Everyone seemed happy with that.

Glendy, from the Women's Office, asked the Board members to talk to the families, and gather the Q.50, and provide that information to her office by Monday. She said she would call me to come and receive the money. Essentially, this is a women's project, because the La Libertad Board said that women are the ones that need the water in the home. That is certainly true, as they cook the food, wash the clothes, etc.

There are 67 women on the list they gave me with the request letter. Some of them might not need it, and would not pay the Q.50. Bub, if all 67 of them signed up, and paid their Q.50, that would be Q.16,750 ($2,166). Some of the women may live in the same household, and some of them have another home in Cahabon. So, if 90% of them signed up it would be $1,950. I think we should set the project amount to $2,000.

All those who sign up will be turning in their money on Monday, and we will need to order the barrels and canal so it can be here on November 5th. We are planning a big activity at the Municipality on the 5th, when our son Doug and his wife Kim are coming. They have already contributed to the project, and we will let them present the water storage barrels and canals on that day. It should be a very special experience for them.

Interestingly, when they gave me the letter, I said I didn't know if we could do anything, but if we pray to God maybe he will show us how we can do it. I told them I would pray, and asked them to pray. We all feel that God is answering our prayers. We are now praying that families in the U.S. will want to help families in Cahabon, in the La Libertad community.

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