It is probably hard to imagine for most of us just how precious clean drinking water is, and how very important! It is something that the majority of us don't even think about, we just take for granted, always having grown up without worries about the water we drink.
For me, it wasn't until my first mission trip I went on that I even thought about the water we drink. It was impressed on me very strongly that we could only drink bottled water. I was actually made very nervous about possibly getting sick from contaminated water.
Now these days, many of us drink bottled water...not because we need to, but because it is the 'trendy' thing to do. But....for many people it is not even an option.
WATER FILTER KIT
Here in Guatemala drinking bottled, or purified, water is a must. The public water is not treated enough to be considered safe to drink. However, many people cannot afford to always drink "agua pura". Many people think that when you live here and drink the water you build up immunities. This is not true. You may build some resistance to some things, but you do not become immune. That is why many, many people here have chronic intestinal issues. Many people, usually children, die from water borne illnesses every year.
WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT!
The picture above is a very simple water filter kit I recently received.
While we were in Bellingham this past July and August, we were given 10 of these kits. What is even more cool, is we don't even know who gave them! Well, Molly gave them to us, but somebody else gave them to her to give to us!
It is a new system, using filters originally designed for kidney dialysis equipment.
I have used some older systems using ceramic candles, which work well, but the candles are fragile and need to be replaced over time, and are fairly expensive. This new system, with occasional cleaning will last forever! It removes 99.99% of bacteria that causes illness!
The system assembles in less than 2 minutes using a 5 gallon plastic bucket!
Youth group painting buckets!
I found a woman who sells used plastic buckets, as well as other containers, etc. I worked out a good deal with her to buy buckets, and brought them home and gave them a good cleaning.
Then, I took some of the buckets to my youth group meeting, with lots of different colors of paint, and said "paint whatever you want!"
Sonia painting her bucket!
I had several reasons for painting the buckets. 1) Just for fun! To brighten them up with something fun. 2) To involve our youth in a project to help others. 3) To make the buckets "different" so the people won't use them for other things, like washing clothes etc. But only for purifying water.
Laura & Carmen working on a bucket!
I then asked Loyda Monroy, the director of Casita Benjamin, to help me target families with need for these filters. We started a list of families that live in Zone 3, the poorest part of Guatemala City, and right by the largest land fill dump in all of Central America. These are families that struggle daily to provide the basic needs, food, water etc. What a blessing to be able to give them these filters!
Assembling a filter system. The window behind me looks directly onto the dump.
This first home is of Irma Sacalxoy, who lives in one room with her 3 children and her mother.
Her oldest daughter, Berenice is 6 yrs old and attends Casita Benjamin. After assembling the system, testing it, and explaining how it works and how to clean it, I explained where the filter came from (friends in the USA who want to help) and then we spent some time together praying for them. They cried as they thanked us for this gift, a huge blessing for them.
Irma Sacalxoy, her sister, mother and 2 of her daughters.
Next, we went to the home of Eluvia Cortez. She also lives in one room with her sister, and her daughter of 7 months, Biberly. Eluvia comes from Jutiapa, in the Eastern part of Guatemala and has lived in the capital for several years. About 2 months ago she lost her job and has not been able to find another one yet. The economy is terrible here, and seems to be hardest on the poorest. She cried as she explained how she tries to buy bottled water to wash her babies bottles and to make formula when she has work to go to. But she can't always because she doesn't have any money. When I explained this system will purify water and last forever, she began to cry and for about 10 minutes could not even talk. She says she is grateful from the bottom of her heart, because this is a gift of life for her and her family!
Eluvia Cortez with her bucket water filter!
We went also to the home of Rita Lopez. She lives with sisters and her mother, plus she has 2 children, and her sister has a baby also. Rita's 4 yr. old son, José, attends Casita Benjamin also.
There story is virtually the same, and again, there were many tears as we prayed with them and for their families.
Putting the filter together
Rita Lopez, her sister and baby!
Clean water. So important. So far from our thoughts sometimes. But not for many people in lives like these I've shared. These filters were such a blessing for us to receive. We are so blessed to be able to be the ones that see the people helped with these simple gifts.
If you would like to help, we can always use more. There are so many families in need of clean water. If you are planning to come visit Guatemala, or know someone that is, the kits are small and easy to pack! They come in a 1 qt. size zip-lock bag.
You can find out more about them by looking at www.pointonefilter.com and look for the model SP180, that is what we have. They are an amazingly easy way to share life!
God is good! All the time!