Esperança

Aura and Her Community Reach the Finish Line of New Water System Amid Global Pandemic

When we first met Aura Gutierrez, she was desperate.

Her family had always lived in poverty, a fact Aura was not ashamed of. She worked hard maintaining her home, her husband spent the days sowing and caring for their land, planting basic grains, corn, and beans, and their 13-year-old son walked to school, helping his father on the farm when he returned. Their home in the remote village of Kaskitas, Nicaragua had no avenue to making a living, so the family worked solely to survive.

A large part of Aura’s day was spent walking to and from the well half a mile from their home, collecting water for drinking, washing clothes, and making food. It was a painful struggle she endured alone, as there was nobody else to help carry the water. Every day of the week Aura walked to the well with her plastic jugs, never taking a rest day. How could she when so much of their livelihood depended on the water she hauled?

All her life, she never paid the task too much mind. It was part of the routine. Only now, as Aura neared her 40s did she realize what a toll the rugged walk took on her body. Only now, when her son was forced to stop attending school before 8th grade to help with the daily water supply, did she know in her heart something had to change.

As if by fate, Aura soon heard of a community meeting hosted by Esperança through local partner, AVODEC, to discuss the possibility of installing a water system in the area. Aura and her family attended the assembly and were overwhelmed by the enormity of the project that would eventually serve 96 families.

So she, along with her husband, happily participate in the execution of the project, trenching, transferring and installing pipe.

Aura and her husband help lay pipe for the new system, serving 96 families.

“I am happy because now I see how the community is getting a better life with this water project that we needed so much and, like me, the whole community is very grateful.”

The water system is nearing completion now, and AVODEC maintains constant technical assistance which makes the execution of each project more effective. Once a system is completed, technicians visit every month for six months to inspect the operation and support ongoing maintenance by community members.

In total, the price of renewed health, safety, and time for 96 families is $18,600, an unfathomable amount in the eyes of the Kaskitas community, especially amid threats of economic freefall from the ongoing pandemic.

“As time progresses, it is of utmost urgency to execute the project because we are in wintertime and COVID-19 keeps us insecure because we do not know what will happen. We must move forward as far as possible until we finish the project.”

The largest felt impact by Aura and all involved is that amid a global pandemic, progress as big as a drinking water system can still be made, progress that has this community beaming with pride.

“We are very grateful for AVODEC and the donors of Esperança. I am very happy and at peace because soon I will be able to enjoy water and won’t have to go to that cliff that I am scared to go pull water from.”

Elena Burr