It is warm and dry one day in Chamanga as I walk from house to house informing local people about the new water center that Water Ecuador is building in Chamanga. So far today, the responses have been very positive. I begin speaking to a woman as she washes her clothes in a bucket of dirty well water outside her home. I tell her about the price of Water Ecuador’s water and she suddenly puts down the t-shirt she was washing.
“So it is true then, it only costs 50 cents?!”
The day before, I had taught a group of school children about water and hygiene and had finished my presentation by saying, “Please share this information with your parents!” One of those students was this woman’s son. When he got home he diligently began to tell his parents about Water Ecuador’s project. The woman’s husband scolded his son for propagating wrong information. Surely, he thought, it is impossible to buy clean drinking water for only 50 cents per bottle.
It is then a pleasant experience for me to inform this woman about Water Ecuador, about our rigorous purification process, and that Water Ecuador’s work is an obra comunitaria sin fines de lucro—a non-profit community project.
During my time in Chamanga, I gave dozens of presentations in local schools with children of all ages, held community-wide meetings for adults, and spoke with many individual households about water, sanitation, and hygiene topics. The meetings create a joyful web of memories that will stick with me. I will remember the children laughing in the classrooms, embracing me, the adults inviting me into their homes for a conversation, and the smart teenagers with their curious questions. I will remember one girl, perhaps 10 or 11 years old, who after having asked many questions regarding the system asked, “And what would you like for us to do? What can I do to help the project?”
I am leaving Chamanga with the construction site well under way but the heart of the site, the purification equipment, still missing. I hope to be able to go back one day soon when the water center is up and running. The children of Chamanga deserve to have clean water, and very soon they shall!
-Sofia Widforss, Short-term project consultant
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