Saving Lives–One Filter at a Time

We hike up the steep cobblestone path leading to even steeper steps and eventually find our way on dirt paths that wind through the various homes tucked in the foliage of the hills above Colonia Hermano Pedro, Guatemala  Far below us is the quaint city of Antigua her streets flooded with tourists, language students and vendors all vying for space and attention. Cars, motorcycles, tuk tuks (auto rickshaws), scooters, and huge buses crowd the narrow streets, spewing up a cacophony of noise. But up here, in the hills, it is quiet. It is almost picture perfect.  

After a few more twists and turns on the paths muddied by the daily rains, we come to a familiar gate made of corrugated metal.  Our friend, Billy, calls out, “Hola!”. A dog barks bringing children’s voices close. The gate is unlatched by eight year old Brian, followed close by his younger sister Gabby. Faint recognition floods their small faces, remembering us from last summer when we came to visit and gave them a water filter system. They grab our hands, “Venga!” (come), and lead us on towards the house on the thin path, flanked by clothes drying on the line. Their mother, Nancy, emerges from the kitchen, drying her hands on her apron.  “Buenos días,”she says as she extends her hands to greet us. She invites us into the kitchen—a space with a dirt floor used for food prep and eating– the family sleeps in another small detached space.  The first thing we notice is the water filter, sitting on a table, clean and functioning well.

While Gabby, Brian and I play a combo of soccer and catch on the narrow ledge, Nancy tells us that since the filter was placed last year, Brian has had no stomach issues. Before receiving the filter and clean water, Brian was often sick and missed a lot of school.

That day, we gave out thirty-five water filters to a group of people from this pueblo. Organized by a colleague in Antigua, he helped interpret as we talked about the filter and its use.  We even threw a bit of dirt in the bucket to muddy the water.  (In these parts, the water “looks clean”, unless you are using river water, so to demonstrate the effectiveness of the filter, we threw dirt in the bucket of water before filtering it, so they could see for themselves how crystal clear it looks when filtered).

It is quite a feat to have thirty-five nervous people, learn how to put a filter system together and then demonstrate how to use it, clean it and care for it, especially when there is a language barrier! But with much patience and laughter, all 35 people succeeded. They held their buckets  proudly and offered profuse gratitude for the gift given.

During our stay in Guatemala, we were able to distribute 60 filters to folks in need.  One filter even went to an alcohol rehab center where our host mom volunteers. Our goal, along with the For One another Foundation is to provide clean, safe drinking and cooking water for families and their neighbors. The gift is meant to be shared!

Many thanks to the For One Another Foundation for the gift of 60 filters. And to Thrivent Financial, and donations from folks at Holy Cross Lutheran Church which covered the cost of buckets and stipends for our interpreters.

Want to help?  It’s easy. 

Donate here

Or send checks earmarked for clean water to Holy Cross Lutheran Church

4701 Grove St. Rocklin, CA 95677

Pamela, Carrie Beth and Dennis at Taste of Loomis, 2018.

Another group receiving water filters in Santa Inez

San Cristobal el Bajo

Step by step, learning how to clean the filter

Cleaning the filter using the water bottle method


via Always Mercy

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