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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bringing clean water to 48 villages in the Philippines

HOPE International Development Agency is collaborating with local village people in Mindanao, southern Philippines, to provide permanent supplies of disease-free drinking water.

Within just a few years, 48 villages will have community-managed water systems providing a permanent supply of clean drinking water. To date, 10 villages have completed their systems and 10,000 of the nation’s poorest of the poor now have clean water for life.

Many people have the vague sense that the Philippines is one of those ‘better-off’ poor countries, which is not an entirely false perception. Filipinos are industrious and creative, and they have gained some ground against poverty. But the modest wealth of the Philippines is shared profoundly unequally.

Mindanao is a place where Indigenous Peoples’ groups try to eke out a life despite great neglect, little to no services, social instability, and massive intergenerational poverty.

Despite its phenomenal beauty, Mindanao’s environment is degraded, and the natural resources that Indigenous Peoples depend upon are unprotected or underdeveloped. These people cannot live where their forests are being hacked away. They cannot live where the only water that can be found is polluted or only accessible by hiking treacherous mountain paths for hours each day.

Clean water is the beginning of a movement to reclaim health. The health of human bodies, the health of dried-up agricultural lands, the health of nature, and the social health of a people that can begin to pour their energy into building self-reliant villages.

That’s why the completion of a water system is an emotional event in HOPE’s partner villages. The arrival of clean water is welcomed with tears, dancing, and thanksgiving celebrations. It’s not just a nice accessory, a simple convenience—it’s the beginning of a transformation.

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