In May, we embarked on our summer journey to Xela in the crux of its rainy season. By this point, the filters Nitin and Patric had distributed over spring break had been in the community for about 2.5 months, and we were looking to evaluate the success of their implementation and determine how to allocate the remainder of our funding.
Lucia, Nitin, and Rebecca arrived in Xela on May 28th, and delightfully reunited with Molly and Patric, who had already been taking classes at the Pop Wuj Spanish School for about two weeks.
After a week of exploring and settling themselves back in Guatemala, Nitin, Lucia, and Rebecca returned to check up on the filters at La Victoria….
Holding true to the Guatemalan style, we headed out with Dona Isabel half an hour later than planned. La Victoria is a picturesque farming community built on a mountainside. Horses and colorful wild turkeys regarded us curiously as we struggled up the steep path. Dona Isabel served as tour guide, proudly introducing us to the nine women with filters.
At each household, we were greeted by children eager to be in our pictures. We stayed for a bit and asked a series of general questions, including:
– How has your filter been working?
– How often do you have to refill it?
– Do your children like to drink the water?
– Have there been any noticeable health differences since you started using the filters?
– What do you use the filters for? Agua pura?…Coffee?…Cooking?
We received many similar answers from all the women:
– The filter works well.
– We refill it two to three times each day.
– The children like the water, because it is very fresh (One woman described how her children eagerly drink water from their filter when they arrive home, hot and tired, from school each day).
– Some said their families experienced fewer stomach aches and necessary doctor visits since the filters had been implemented.
– All reported that the filters are used for agua pura, coffee, and other nourishment such as Atole.
The women were extremely hospitable and eager to please. The children pulled out little plastic chairs, and the women proudly presented snacks they had prepared. We arrived home just in time for Xela’s daily monsoon, feeling very satisfied with the trip, especially with seeing that the filters were being used for their correct purpose.
After the success of our previous visit, we next set our sites on providing La Victoria with more filters. Clearly, the current ones were being carefully maintained and utilized, and the women were thrilled to receive even greater access to clean water.
Lucia, Nitin, Patric, and Rebecca arrived at Pop Wuj early, to find a large Ecofiltro van parked outside the school. Two Eofiltro employees had driven all the way from Antigua to transport filters to La Victoria and give a presentation about how to use and maintain the devices. We led the way in a van, packed with Pop Wuj volunteers coming along to help and observe the clean water project in action.
The women and their children were waiting outside Dona Maria’s house. The community leaders gave introductions, which were translated into Mayan Mam, English, and Spanish for all to understand. The men from Ecofiltro then gave a presentation about the proper ways to assemble, fill, and clean the filters. The women seemed eager to learn, and asked to clarify points of confusion, such as how often the filters should be cleaned.
We had also prepared surveys for the community. There were two separate sets of questions. The first was for those who had received filters in the spring, and focused on how the filters were working and their impact on the family’s overall health and economic stability. The second survey was a baseline for women who were about to receive filters, and included questions pertaining to their current medical and financial states (the surveys are attached at the bottom of the blog). We split into groups and interviewed the women, and then distributed the new filters to the eagerly awaiting families.
Our final gesture was a surprise for La Victoria. We gave a large, sixty-liter filter to Dona Ana, the community midwife and nurse. This filter was to be placed in her medical clinic. We felt assured that this filter would be put to good use, as Dona Ana had previously told us that she wished she had more clean water to provide for both her own family and all the sick people who came seeking her help.
–Tufts Timmy Global Health (Clean Water Initiative)