|Population: 5,600 people
|GPS: 19.139819, -71.996569
|Partner: Partners in Health
|Intervention: Spring Protection piped down to 5 tap stands. 25 latrines, 40 BioSand filters, 3 laundry stations, 2 animal troughs, and 3 hand-washing stations.
e traveled for over an hour on an unpaved road to reach the community of Marialapas. Desperately poor
and isolated, Marialapas is home to 5,600 people. Most families in Marialapas make a meager living by
farming or raising livestock. They are currently trying to build a road, hoping it will increase opportunities
for trade and transportation.
Receiving no government support for education, the residents in Marialapas got together and built their own school out of branches and a thatched roof made of dried cornhusks. Three chalkboards leaned precariously against the skeleton frame, blowing slightly in the wind. Without walls, students sat on rocky school benches and had a clear view of the surroundings. Except for one green patch surrounding a ravine, there wasn't a tree in sight. We learned quickly that the ravine was the problem.
The community collects most of its drinking water from a dirty irrigation ditch. It's a little cleaner than the nearby ravine, but it's a long walk away. However, we learned that in their haste (or laziness), the children often ran down to the ravine after school to drink - and of course, it made them sick. The water is murky and filled with leaves and debris. Even standing in the ravine was difficult, as mud and slimy rocks were everywhere. The Partners In Health water engineer quickly pointed out that this school desperately needed hygiene education.
“These children need to know that this water is why they are getting so sick, ” he said.
We joined over 200 villagers under the shady cornhusk roof of the school. We didn't know how long they'd been waiting for us to arrive, but they sat patiently in the midday heat and filled every inch of space on the small school benches.
As men and women spoke of the sickness, long walks, and inhumanity of their water source, we asked one man what the community was willing to contribute to the project. Without hesitation he replied, “We have no money, especially now. But we can dig and carry rocks.” Pausing and clearing his throat he concluded, “We are ready to give you our courage.”
Solution: Here, we plan to construct a spring protection and pipe the water down to five tap stands. The community will contribute labor and also construct 25 latrines, 40 BioSand filters, 3 laundry stations, 2 animal troughs, and 3 hand-washing stations.
- story by: charity: water Programs Director, Becky Straw
- photos by: Esther Havens