By Marion Nonglaton, PWW Honduras, Trojes Project Coordinator
When I first arrived in Honduras to work with Pure Water for the World, the “BBQ Project” was in a proposal stage, being assessed. “BBQ” is an acronym for the three communities of El Boquerón, El Bosque and Quebrada De Oro that have collaborated extensively in an effort to have access to safe, clean water.
I remember one very determined resident, Dona Reina, was coming at least once a week to follow up on the status of the proposal. She was the first person we called when the project has been formally accepted.
I had the chance to go to the community where the water source is, El Sinar, during another PWW project. When they showed me where the first and last tanks were scheduled for construction, initially, I didn’t believe them. It seems miles and miles away. A project like that couldn’t exist.
Then, I went to the community to discuss the project in April 2016. I had planned to go by motorbike, but all of my colleagues told me I was crazy because the dirt road was in a really bad state and, at some points, when you go by truck, you have one wheel in the void because of the rocks. We went by truck.
We first gathered to discuss the project with the communities, but only a small quantity of people showed up. We heard people saying that this project was never going to be a reality.
We then started to work with the topographical study, and people started to dig the trenches, but there was still no word from SANAA (the national water and sanitation authority from whom we had requested funding). We couldn’t start to buy materials, yet. Community members started losing their motivation. Rumors were saying that materials would never come and working was a waste of time.
People from each community had already been working almost 150 days when the first tubes finally arrived at the site. The three communities regained their motivation, and people who hadn’t believed in the project from the beginning started to work with the others.
Today, eight people from each community are volunteering their time, in lieu of paid wages, every day. Sometimes, they have to hike about 4 hours to get to the site of the water source. They wake up even earlier, at 3am sometimes, because they have to get water for their families before going to work. They work long days, digging trenches, carrying heavy metal pipes on their shoulders, up steep muddy slopes, mixing cement, doing hard labor, and they don’t show any sign of fatigue. It is impressive.
They have worked over 600 days thus far, seeming to gain more motivation with each passing day.
When we go to the communities, the people receive us always with warm greetings. They generously feed us. There is always food or coffee ready for us in one of the houses. They’re always willing to help when the trucks get stuck in the mud.
I think what makes this project really special is the commitment of the community leaders, especially the president of the Water Board from El Boqueron, Jose Antonio Mejia, or ‘Toño’ as his friends and family refers to him.
Toño organizes the work from the three communities every day. He keeps track of who is working; he comes to work each day with us. He has sacrificed time with his family. He has sacrificed his job.
Toño lives on the far side of the community, in the poorest of the communities. He doesn’t have a horse, like others, so he hikes two hours to get to the center of the community, and then he still has to get to the construction sites, which are sometimes 2-3 hours further.
Toño’s involvement has been recognized in the community, to a point that people thought that PWW was paying him for the work he does. So during a meeting with the community we cleared the fact that Toño is a volunteer. When people heard that, they all offered to pay him 100-200 Honduran dollars from each house, recognizing that he doesn’t have time to work on the field to feed his family.
Toño is an example of the commitment the communities have, but there are many other people committed in this project. Based on the amount of work that they must help complete, they know that feeding their families will be difficult during the next six months.
One community recently shared: “I know it will be difficult during these months, but remember that we are all hiking an average of one hour to get water everyday. Imagine what you will be able to do with this extra hour every day after this project is complete. You could take that time to work more on the field and produce more for your family. This is a hard time but it will improve our lives forever.”
Learn more about the BBQ project and see a drone video of the area by clicking here.
Offer your support of these communities by making a donation today.