Aquality’s roots go back to Muisne, Ecuador, when the organization was founded in 2007 under the name Agua Muisne, also known as Water Ecuador, in the United States. The organization was founded in response to a lack of clean water options in rural Ecuador.
Aquality started with the experience of one individual searching to improve health within a small community in Ecuador. In 2006, Alex Harding traveled from the United States to volunteer in a small hospital in Muisne, Ecuador. Alex spent all summer watching children come through the hospital’s emergency room with illnesses caused by lack of safe water: diarrhea, vomiting, and intestinal parasites. Their pale skin, sunken eyes, and weak cries were the external signs of the torment inside their bodies. Those children were prescribed fluids and antibiotics and recovered from their illness. But a week later, Alex saw the same children carried through the doors of the emergency room with the same illness as before. Speaking to the parents of these children, Alex learned that this pattern of repeated illnesses had gone on those children’s whole lives, and those of their older siblings, their cousins, and their parents. In fact, being sick was almost a normal state of being in Muisne.
Living in Muisne, Alex also saw where people obtained their water. The town’s wells were located within a few meters of leaky sewage lines. Peering into some of these wells, swarmed with flies, Alex was immediately overwhelmed by the stench of rotting waste.
Alex met many people in Muisne who believed their children’s illnesses were the result of the community’s dirty drinking water. These citizens were eager to fix this problem but did not have the knowledge or resources to do so on their own.
After a year of studying, fundraising, and team-building in the US and Ecuador, Alex Harding returned to Muisne and, with a team of local Muisneños, designed and built Muisne’s first clean drinking water center. This group of people decided to call itself Agua Muisne (Water Ecuador in English) to honor the community where its work originated and the inspiring passion of its people to improve their health and livelihood.
Alex Harding’s vision created a nonprofit built on filling the need within a niche community in the form of Water Ecuador. After functioning for 9 years with the focus of building water centers on the coast of Ecuador, the organization recognized the changing needs within the community, and chose to evolve with the community. In 2015, The Water Ecuador team made the difficult decision to shift away from building water centers and instead, focus on the research-based model which now stands today. After expanding research to all of Latin America, by Fall 2015, the organization found it necessary to have a name which aligned with research interests. Thus, Aquality was born. With the organization’s redefined mission and an increased global scope, it has transformed from the promise of clean water for Ecuador, to drinking water equality for all. While our roots still remain in Ecuador, moving forward the organization hopes to work globally towards the overarching goal of clean water for everyone.