Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Mar 22 2014

Cleaning up Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan

By Veronica Batton, writer/editor for Unbound

Happy World Water Day! We celebrate this day each year on March 22, as a way to highlight the importance of freshwater and maintaining freshwater resources. The theme for World Water Day 2014 is on “Water and Energy.”

When you consider that 60 percent of the adult human body is made of it, and about 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by it, water becomes a pretty important resource for us to care for in the right way.

Maria, a former sponsored child from Guatemala, has clean water on the top of her “to-do” list and plans to make a change, starting in her own community of Cerro de Oro, Guatemala.

Maria was sponsored through Unbound when she was 5 years old. Her sponsor supported her for 16 years, until she graduated. With her sponsor’s support, she was able to stay in school and achieve good grades, which helped her get a scholarship to college. A dream she had held onto since she was a young girl.

“I always dreamed about going to college like others were doing,” she said.

She read about an exciting opportunity, offered only to Mayan women, to earn a scholarship to an American university. Maria applied and was excited to learn she was accepted to participate.

Before she left for school, she began working at Unbound in her hometown translating letters for children and sponsors. It was then she began to think about the impact she wanted to make in the world.

“I had a feeling of being able to be the voice of many children, and I started to think about what things I should do to help my community in the future,” she said.

She came to the United States in 2012, and like many freshman entering college, she was a little unsure of what it was she wanted to choose as her major. It wasn’t until later in her sophomore year that she was certain of her decision to major in environmental studies.

“I wanted to go back to my country, especially where I live in Cerro de Oro where one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Lake Atitlan, is located,” she said. “My worry is that the Maya population will not have access to clean water in the future.”

Lake Atitlan

A mother washes clothes in Lake Atitlan.

An issue that recently arose about clean water is strong detergents used when clothes are washed in the river. These detergents and other toxins find their way into the lake, polluting fresh water and affecting the fish, which many Mayan people depend on for their livelihoods.

Maria’s goal is to graduate with a degree in environmental studies and to work for an organization taking care of Lake Atitlan.

Her plan is to create washing stations where people can go to wash their clothes instead of using the lake and to help find new ways of transportation free from toxic elements.

Interested in hearing more of Maria’s story? She will be giving a breakfast presentation at Unbound headquarters in Kansas City, Kan., on July 31, 2014. Our website will be updated with more details coming soon!

Special thanks go to Maria for sending us her story!

One thought on “Cleaning up Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan”

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