Oct 25 2012

Walking for water in Guatemala

Many sponsored friends and family members who live in the town of Santa Maria, in Ixhuatan, Guatemala, go without running water or electricity in their homes because these necessities are not readily available.

Edelmira and her family in Guatemala.

Edelmira and her family in Guatemala.

Edelmira is a mother of four: three boys and one girl. Edelmira’s son, Josue, is sponsored through Unbound. The family does not have running water in the home, and they must travel to a community tank to get water.

Edelmira gives us an inside look into the life of her family.

What is the current water situation in your home?

We do not have running water in our home.

Every day I walk 20 minutes to a community tank to get our daily supply of water.

I bring the water home in big plastic jars. I carry two jars: one on my head and one on my arm.

I make several trips back and forth to the tank. I walk up and down hills, and it usually takes me about two or three hours every day.

I am familiar with walking and carrying heavy loads. When I was a little girl my father would have us work in the fields and carry big sacks of corn and beans on our head.

Do you ever experience water shortages?

The community tank provides water for most of the people who live in this area.

We must wait in line to take a shower, wash clothes and fill our jars to bring water home.

I usually wait up to 45 minutes in line.

Can you describe what a typical day is like for you?

I wake up at 4 in the morning to start bringing water home from the community tank.

Around 6 a.m., I come back home to cook breakfast and get my children ready for school.

I take my children to school, and around 8 or 9 a.m. I continue bringing water from the community tank to our home until around 11 in the morning. Sometimes my children also help me bring the water home.

We use the water I bring home to drink, cook and wash dishes.

Every afternoon I take all of my children to the community water tank to take a shower and wash clothes.

Edelmira brings home water

Edelmira and her son Josue must travel to bring water to their home.

On Saturdays, my children and I go to the forest to collect our weekly supply of firewood.

I need this firewood to cook food and boil the water that we drink.

I also dry our clothes in the sun, and then I fold it very tightly. This keeps the garments neat so there is no need to iron them.

I am very careful with the water that I use to cook and drink.

I boil and keep the water in plastic containers that I have received from Unbound.

Is there any message you would like to give your child’s sponsor?

There is no substitute for water. God has provided water, so let us take care of what’s available to us.

Treasure the water that you have.

We hope we have the opportunity to meet my son’s sponsor.

It is not easy to provide running water for a family. About 30 percent of the sponsored friends and their families do not have running water or electricity at home.

Many cannot afford the costs for pipe installation or the monthly fees ($3 to $4 a month) for the service, which is not dependable. Those who can afford running water in their homes still encounter challenges because water is rationed by local authorities.

A typical family may use three or four candles per day. Every candle costs about 13 cents, so that would be about $4 a month. Families are not able to commit to a monthly electric bill so they prefer to use candles and buy as many as they can afford.

Unbound helps sponsored friends and their families obtain water basins, plastic water containers, metal water containers and water pumps.

A big thank you to Roxeny Lemus, Unbound social worker in Santa Maria, Ixhuatan, Guatemala, for providing us with this information.

One thought on “Walking for water in Guatemala”

  1. Water supply distribution and global water scarcity are interests of ours. This story exemplifies the typical hardship of access and alludes to the specter of political control and rationing of water. We served with CFC in 1986.

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