Berny Leonardo was working in the village of Barrial not long ago when he got a telephone call from one of the village elders of La Canoa. He was working with some men laying tile on the floor of a church building, which was a private project of the board of directors of Water for Life.
The call related that for some reason the pump at La Canoa was not working and had been out of service for about three days. The situation in the village was not good. The people had been forced to go back to the old source of drinking water, which was a small very contaminated creek that runs through the village.
After three days of drinking this water, people were beginning to get sick. The whole village was in trouble, because there was simply no other source of clean water within walking distance. A few of the men there had brought some water from town in a barrel and they had been trying to avoid drinking from the creek, but some of the children had not obeyed and were ill.
This was a village had been drinking clean water for over 5 years because of a well that Bucky Mowrey had drilled. This was also the village where, after the well had been installed, the villagers reported that for the first time, no children had died that year. We noted some time ago, that if village people have been drinking clean water for some time and then have to go back to contaminated water, everybody soon gets very ill. It was quickly going to become a serious problem in La Canoa.
Berny called his friend Samir and got the pump service truck out of the shop to go help. He also called Henry Lazaro who maintains the campus of the orphanage nearby. He needed Henry to go with him because the villagers of La Canoa speak only K’iche’. This is a Mayan language very unlike Spanish. Berny does not speak this language, but Henry does.
The trip to La Canoa was not easy. It is only about 4 miles, but the road is very poor even by Guatemala standards. There are huge holes into which the truck must creep and then out the other side. In the rainy season, you cannot get there by vehicle at all, only by horse or mule or walking. Fortunately, it had not rained for days and the truck could get through.
Once on the site and set up, the problem was easy to locate. The plastic pipe bringing water up to the pump from the cylinder had broken up inside the pump stand. The pump was replaced with one from the shop and within a little while and the well was back in service. The villagers were all very happy to have a source of clean water again.
I talked to Henry after he got back and asked how it went. He told me that the well had been easily fixed. I asked if the villagers were happy and he laughed and said, “Oh sí, hay mucha agua ahora.” (Yes, there is a lot of water now.)
We are trying to solve this problem by going back and drilling another well in some villages so there is a back up if one well goes down. This is hard to do because of the demand from villages that do not have any well at all. We are working to resolve this, but we need help. If you can help us, we offer you a chance to change the lives of people. It will change you as well.