Mother and daughter gathering water from a stream

The Need for Clean Water in Guatemala

Water—one of God’s greatest gifts—is essential to survival. In the developed world, we take it for granted. But in places like rural Guatemala, thousands of poor families lack access to its life-sustaining power. They risk contracting diseases from drinking and cooking with water from potentially contaminated sources. Without direct access to a spigot in their homes, everyday activities like bathing and washing clothing are made far more difficult – and even dangerous.

It may seem that water can be found in abundance in tropical places like Santa Rosa de Lima in southern Guatemala; but water and clean, potable water are two very different things. Beneath the surface of the streams and springs live harmful bacteria and pathogens that cause serious illnesses.

Challenges Posed by the Lack of Clean Water in Guatemala

Access to clean water poses a significant challenge in many impoverished communities. Over time, natural sources like streams and lakes have become polluted or contaminated. Villagers may walk for hours to collect water from a spring – a chore performed primarily by women and children. Precious time spent gathering water keeps them from attending school or earning an income. Even after making a long trek to a “clean” water source, the water might still be dirty or contaminated.

Members of the La 46 community, in the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima, collect water from a spring in the valley, called El Pino. They walk for miles to get there. At first glance, the water appears relatively clear – were it not for the sounds of frogs swimming in the water you might even be tempted to drink it. The water is riddled with bacteria and pathogens –invisible to the naked eye – that cause illness. Still, many poor families have no other option: water is essential, and this is as good as it gets. They use El Pino’s water to wash clothing and bring home in vessels for drinking, cooking and bathing.

The Power of Clean Water to Transform a Household

Maria Zoila Ramirez lives in Santa Rosa. She is extremely poor and calls a makeshift shack home. Like many members of La 46, Maria used to fetch water from the El Pino spring. It took more than two hours to get there from her home. Because of the great distance, she could only make the trek once a week. Maria and her children would load up the family horse with canisters and off they would go. With the help of the horse they could gather a lot of water – a luxury not everyone in the village has to help carry the load. Many of Maria’s friends still walk to and from El Pino carrying the heavy containers of water for miles.

Recently, thanks to the generosity of Catholic benefactors, Maria has been blessed with a clean water tap in her home. Now she and her kids no longer have to leave the house before daybreak and travel to the spring to wait in long lines to fill their buckets. They can turn on the tap at home and clean, safe water flows freely. As a result, Maria and her family have more time and energy. They are no longer getting sick from the spring’s contaminated water.

Empowering Local Water Committees

Cross Catholic Outreach is working with the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima and Father Raúl Monterroso to deliver abundant clean water to more families like Maria’s. It will be the first time these families will have life-giving water piped directly into their homes. With the contributions of our generous mission partners, a total of 583 people in the La 46 community will receive the blessing of clean water –completely transforming their lives.

Our project includes the instillation of a 600-foot-deep well and gravity-fed water system. Local water committees will assist in the installation of the water system and the piping into homes. Once the project is complete, these villagers will be trained to maintain and repair the system. Catholic leaders, like Fr. Raúl, will prove instrumental in providing the training and spiritual formation.

Help Cross Catholic Outreach Address the Water Crisis in Guatemala

Your gift to Cross Catholic will help provide funding for one community water well and the clean, refreshing water that will be piped to the homes of 583 villagers who must otherwise fetch dirty water from unsafe sources.

Not only will your contribution provide essential water to families in need, but also time. Instead of spending valuable hours finding and transporting water, children are free to attend school, and parents can earn an income. Your donation will empower the Church in the Diocese of Santa Rosa, strengthening Catholic formation of our brothers and sisters in the diocese and training for local water communities.

Demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ and help pump clean, safe water into the homes of poor villagers in Guatemala by giving generously to this project today

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