Roots and Wings International continues to further development in Pasac, Guatemala, through their latest project of a water purification system. The first such project of its kind in the region, the clean water supply will service to combat the health dangers posed by the toxic waters consumed by the villagers.
Guatemala has the fourth highest rate of malnutrition in the world and the highest in Latin America. In rural areas like Pasac, where the indigenous populations are concentrated and access to clean water is limited, diarrhea and infant mortality are stubbornly high.
The piped water which flows to almost every house in the village is highly contaminated. “Families who were conscientious about clean water boil water over wood burning stoves,” said Roots and Wings International founder and director, Erik Swanson, “which is labor intensive and consumes large amounts of wood fuel. Some families purchase water, but this option is financially impossible for the vast majority of the community.”
Thanks to the efforts and partnership of Roots and Wings International and Living Waters for the World, today, 2500 villagers from Pasac and the surrounding communities have access to a sustainable clean water supply. The water will be sold at approximately $0.60 per five gallon bottle, which is less than half the market rate for water in the area. Swanson anticipates that 1000 people will take immediate advantage of the system and he projects that this number will increase by many, year by year.
Project lead and coordinator, Katy Bedunnah, successfully steered the seven month project to its 2013 launch with few complications or setbacks. Building and installing the water system took place over five days, with the help of her small volunteer team of three Americans, three local trained operators and six local promoters. This collaboration will help guarantee the ongoing sustainability and success of the water system, which will produce 600 gallons of water per day and 150,000 gallons of water before the filters will need to be replaced. The entire system, including pumps, filters, five gallon water bottles and bacteria test kits was solely financed by Living Waters for the World, while the revenues raised through sales will act as a sustainable source of income for the village.
The exact significance of the water purification system to the Pasac community will only truly be measured many years from now, but its effects will be felt immediately. Roots and Wings Executive Director in Guatemala, Cristóbal Guarchaj, understands what it will mean to his community: “I’m very excited about this project. It’s a question of development, change and security.” “If we are able to provide clean, safe water, we can make a contribution to the health of our entire community… Health is one of the pillars of development. If we have education, but we’re not healthy, we can’t be active. Likewise, if we don’t have education, but we’re healthy, there’s also a missing factor. It’s a two-way road, and this water system brings my community one step further along the path to development.”
Roots and Wings International remains committed to its mission of providing educational opportunities to promote development. They have several donation programs including: monthly contributions, making a onetime donation, naming a scholarship, corporate gift matching, buying Guatemalan-made coffee, shopping at Amazon for the cause, volunteering with skills and time and starting a fundraiser.
To learn more about the Center and the different opportunities to donate, click here.