Safe Water for Mayan Communities in Guatemala

Maria Santos Baquiax, a young married mother of two, lives in the Santa Apolonia area of Guatemala.

By Bella DiFilippo*

Laden with two heavy jugs and a baby strapped to her back, she often walked 12 times a day to collect water for her family. Although the water was contaminated, Maria used it for cooking, laundry, and personal hygiene.

Today, thanks to a partnership between the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and Asociación Bienestar Progreso Desarollo (ABPD), Maria and other Mayan families now enjoy safe water at home and a better life as a result.

Workers from ABPD work with members of the local community to connect pipes that will provide a fresh water source to the village. PHOTO COURTESY OF ABPD

With funding from UMCOR, ABPD is building clean-water systems and latrines and educating communities on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Together, Global Ministries and ABPD empower communities to achieve sustainable development, improving the lives of 1,600 men, women, and children.

“Since I was young,” Maria told ABPD in an interview, “life was always hard in this village because of the lack of water. I did my family’s laundry in nearby ponds, which were about half a kilometer (one-third mile) from the community.

“When I got married and moved out,” she added, “I had to collect water 12 times a day. I carried a jug on my head, another in my hands, and sometimes I carried my baby on my back. In total, I carried over 75 pounds. All of my mornings, every day, were spent collecting water. I didn’t have enough time to economically support my husband.”

Then, ABPD and UMCOR came to the village. Now Maria simply turns on a faucet to collect all the water her family needs.

Maria Santos Baquaix demonstrates how easy it is for her to turn on the newly installed water spigot. PHOTO COURTESY OF ABPD

“My life is totally changed,” Maria said. “Doing all this takes me only an hour or two every day, which has allowed me to have time to harvest strawberries with my husband and sell them in the market.”

With access to clean water, diarrhea or skin problems are no longer threats. “In the past,” she continued, “many children died from not being treated in time for water-borne illnesses, like diarrhea, but now the risk is greatly reduced.”

The entire community owns the water project. “We all use clean water now,” Maria says. “Families are practicing better hygiene, and we all have a better understanding about the importance of washing our hands.”

UMCOR WASH programs in Cho Antonio, Guatemala, and other places bring life-changing impact to impoverished communities. Your gift to Advance #3020600, UMCOR Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Program, will make a difference as individuals and families gain health and hope through clean water. Thank you!

UMCOR WASH is part of the Abundant Health initiative.

*Bella DiFilippo is Communications Specialist from Mission Engagement for Global Ministries