Sunday, May 10, 2009

Secure Water

Here in Guatemala there is a lot of intestinal disease related to microbes present in the water. The source of the water for most of the coastal area where our mission is located is on Volcano PECUL. This is the volcano where over a thousand hectares of forestry burned and where several large rivers originate. Already it is estimated that the water capacity has decreased 15% due to this forest fire. Water comes from springs and rivers and flows through tubes to large cememt tanks. Most communities have access to water now but as the population increases there are many issues related to water to be resolved. Contamination in the tanks is due to fecal material from surrounding land seeping into tanks. Much of the population still lack outdoor toilets or do not use the exisitng ones. Tanks also are not properly cleaned and the people lack the education or means to perform this service of the existing tanks on a regular basis.

Last year a Chemist from Carroll College of the Diocese of Helena, Montana came with a plan of a project to educate the population to clorinate their own drinking water in their homes. Change comes slow as preventive health is always more difficult than curative medicine. We have named the Project, "Secure Water" to avoid the taboo of the taste of chloro in the water discouraging participants. Several of the workers involved in environmental issues in the clinic have introduced "secure water" to their families. They realize they must be convinced theselves and teach by example. Several more employees have been convinced and the project slowly grows.

We also have introduced this project to our parish high school where over 100 students live in a dormitory in the school. Like many environmental projects this help resolve other health and economic issues, such as use of less fire wood to boil the water which helps deforestation and economic cost of firewood, decrease in intestinal disease and preventive health education makes changes that hopefully are passed on to the next generation. This is a project that is very important and yet is not a great expense for the people or the clinic. Thank You for your support to improve the lives of the Poor whom we serve.