When five GSB classmates and PRW partners set off for Nicaragua, they never guessed they’d meet young mothers who had to stand in queues for water on a mountainside at 1 AM. But by going in-country to get a closer look at PRW’s projects, they met Yadira and Liseth, residents of the tiny settlement of Barrio Manuel Piquera, a community that works hard to overcome its lack of basic infrastructure.
YADIRA AND LISETH: As leaders of the village CAP (volunteer water committee) and mothers of young children, Yadira and Lisbeth are committed to clean water and the maintenance of the water-chlorination system provided by a PRW-funded project.
Barrio Manuel Piquera’s problem: no water storage means that these young women, and all their neighbors, have to collect water when it flows from a pipe that is the community’s most reliable source. Sadly, this is not always during business hours. The compensating good news: the water from that pipe is clean, thanks to a chlorination process device, the CTI-8, created by Compatible Technology International (CTI). The CTI-8 has no moving parts, requires no power source, and uses an inexpensive tablet to add germ-killing chlorine for weeks at a time. It’s just one of the poverty-fighting projects funded by Project Redwood.
This November, Jorge Fernandez (the project sponsor of CTI), Dave Fletcher, Donna Allen, Ann McStay, and Rich Jerdonek headed south to get a more visceral understanding of the work PRW supports in Nicaragua through CTI and another non-profit, Self-Help International. As part of a seven-day journey, they met over 200 rural Nicaraguans who were working to improve the health and standard of living in their communities, with the help of PRW projects.
Nicaragua is the poorest country in the Americas. While CTI focuses on basics like healthy water in Nicaragua, Self-Help International’s main purpose is to educate communities about ways to create stronger local economies.
PETRONA: The oldest and most energetic member of one of SHI’s micro-enterprise programs, Petrona, made a nacatamales lunch for the PRW visitors, demonstrating the care and skill she uses when she prepares food to sell on market day.
“I’m not too old to learn new ways,” commented one sixty-year-old farmer who was part of SHI’s program that helps farmers to grow a greater variety of crops, to improve their yields, and to cultivate a more nutritious corn. In addition, SHI runs micro-enterprise programs that teach women to start small home-based businesses. SHI also helps communities to install CTI’s chlorinators, thanks to Jorge’s efforts to get the two groups to work together.
ADRIANA: The rocking rhythm of a treadle sewing machine sings of the success of Adriana, a seamstress who makes clothing and accessories for extra income. SHI helped her start this home-based business.
At the end of the trip, Rich captured the sentiments of all the travelers: “We realized that what we have done is small compared to the contribution of the people in this lovely country that is emerging from the ravages of civil war. We came away with an optimism about the long-term impact, sustainability, and replicability of our grantees’ work there to meet the needs of people for safe water and economic independence in Nicaragua and worldwide.”
Our classmates were so inspired by their trip that everyone pitched in to buy a new water storage tank for Barrio Manuel Piqueras. Liseth’s and Yadira’s moonlit waits for water will soon be a thing of the past.
GSBERS: Travelers and classmates Donna Allen, Jorge Fernandez, Rich Jerdonek, Dave Fletcher, and Ann McStay as they are about to embark on a seven-day jeep and minivan trip which introduced them to the people supported by PRW projects.
GRANTEES: Dedication and determination are hallmarks of those who make helping others their life’s work.
Jorge Campos, SHI director of farming and water systems training.