As you read this, how far are you from a clean water source?
Imagine now that the next time you wanted a drink, needed to wash your hands, or started to cook something, you first had to walk 500 feet (the length of one and a half football fields) to reach water.
Would basic hygiene and staying hydrated become less of a priority?
In the community of Sarayal, Nicaragua, the walk becomes even less tempting after a long day of working in the fields, knowing that the water could contain very harmful bacteria that will make your children sick. This was the case for Cándida Rosa González Ruiz and her family of five.
Cándida is a single mother and has lived in Sarayal for 22 years. She and her children have grown up tilling the land on corn, beans, and coffee farms.
“We come home with a lot of back pain after working in the field, but my daughter and I still go get water. When we wash and bathe we go to the well because that’s where we get drinking water, although it’s not very clean. In the summer time, the water source is depleted and we have to travel further for water. It’s difficult for us to leave the children for so long to get water.”
Cándida and her daughter collect water from 500 feet away every day in plastic buckets and gallons to use for kitchen chores.
This was the way of life for most families in Sarayal until Esperança spoke with community leaders about their living conditions. Esperança has served in Nicaragua for 18 years, continuing to bring social change projects to low-income families and improve the living conditions of the population, mainly through the prevention of infectious diseases caused by contaminated water.
“There’s never been an organization who has offered a project like this. Our community felt forgotten. But they finally raised the census of the people on the subject of clean water. I still didn’t think it was possible until Esperança came with some donors to see our water sources. I believed that they were going to help us with the water we needed.”
After an initial evaluation and plans were created, the residents of Sarayal participated in building the water containment and filtration system. An important piece of the Esperança model is community engagement; ensuring that participants are educated on how to make repairs and maintain the system.
Cándida is one of the beneficiaries who helped with the ditching and moving pipes and sand, for both the tank and reservoir.
An underground source and a reservoir tank was built to capture the water. From there, the water is pumped 3,000 feet to a storage tank with a capacity of 11,000 gallons. It is then carried by gravity through a system of pipes, serving 65 families (390 people) with fresh water right to their doorsteps.
“I’m happy because the water project is going to come true for the whole community and everyone will finally have water in their homes.”
“We always dreamed of something like this. This project is wonderful. We’re glad for having water in the patio and kitchen because now I am always washing dishes and cooking!”