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Friday, May 20, 2011

Guatemala: One Village Celebrates, One Anticipates

Recently, the rural Mayan community of Rijuyup in Guatemala held a two-day celebration of the completion of a HOPE International Development Agency-supported community water supply project. Prior to this happy occasion, the 500 households that constitute this village were without clean water. Now it is piped directly to their homes.

Women prepare traditional Mayan tortillas for the celebration.

Jorge Luis Castro León (left) warmly greets a friend in Rijuyup on the celebration day.

Nearby Rijuyup is the village of Chinanton. Here, there is no cause for celebration as of yet. Chinanton’s water source, an unprotected spring, dries up for several months a year. Before this water disappears each year, women begin queuing at 5 am and must wait many hours in the heat. Once there is no more water at this source women are forced to walk a couple hours one way to a stream where they collect dirty water. Juana San Amparas (pictured in blue and pink below) – a widow with several children – spoke to us passionately about this hardship. The burden of collecting water has been compounded for many women in Chinanton who are making do without a spouse as a result of systematic violence that devastated the community in the 1980s.

The people of Chinanton are both extremely eager and organized in their effort to develop a clean water system. There is clean spring water in the adjacent hills that can be capped and brought to the community, but this costs much more than the community has so they are requesting help. HOPE International Development Agency, of course, is there for the families of Chinanton. Wherever there are motivated poor communities, our work finds very promising conditions for transformation. Hopefully their celebration is not long in coming.

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