No More Giardia!

By  Eva Jiménez Coll, PWW Volunteer

Antonio Ezequiel Mejia Licona (pictured), called “Tony” by his family, is a 4-year-old boy living in El Boquerón, a small community within the Trojes municipality of southern Honduras.

It takes us two hours by truck and another 15 minutes of walking to get to this community from our office in downtown Trojes city.

Tony lives with his mother, father and three older siblings in a small house surrounded by forest and fruit trees. A paradise for the senses, with its green mountains and colorful flowers, a logistical nightmare, with its location being very far away from the closest shops and services.

Tony first began getting sick when he was 11 months old. He had stomach inflammation and bloating, severe pains, fever, and even blood in his stools. The illnesses initiated a pilgrimage by his parents to every health care center in the area. Tony was diagnosed with several varying diseases during the years and admitted to different hospitals “countless times” as his mother recalls. All with no sustainable improvements.

During this time, Tony couldn’t eat many of the typical meals in Honduras, like beans or milk, and his stomach became so inflamed and swollen he couldn’t even bend over. “It looked like it was going to explode,” his mother told me.

Tony’s father finally took him to a doctor in Jalapa, a city in Nicaragua, located about one hour away by motorbike. There, Tony was diagnosed with Giardia, an intestinal parasite that appears in water and soil.

Giardia is a very hard to kill parasite. So, for over a year, Tony had to take a pill three times a day, every day, and visit the doctor in Nicaragua every three days. Each pill cost about 5 lempiras (Honduran dollars). So, on the top of the travel expenses his parents incurred and the doctor’s fees, the family had to pay about $20 (USD) per month on medicine. This was money that they simply did not have. Community collections and a lot of extra work took place to support Tony’s health.

María (Tony’s mother) had to travel alone with Tony to the hospital in Nicaragua because his father, Toño, was working tirelessly on the project that would bring safe water to the homes in their community, along with two other communities in the area. We called this the BBQ project (click here to learn more).

We featured Toño last winter, and his powerful story of dedication to this project. Read story here. 

The three communities of El Boquerón, El Bosque and Quebrada De Oro had been fighting for this project for over 15 years, making blueprints, taking topography measurements, working diligently to acquire the money to buy the land from where the source water would come.

This [project] was a dream for the three communities,” according to Toño (Tony’s father). It became a reality when they received the support of Pure Water for the World.

For an entire year, volunteers, representing all three communities, worked full-time, every single day, taking only some Sundays to rest, focused on the goal of having safe, running water in their homes. Prior to this project, community members walked long, hard distances, gathering water from shallow boreholes (where animals could also reach), long hoses (that were regularly and easily damaged), and even directly from the river. All of their water sources were very unsafe and all were contaminated with waterborne pathogens.

At the beginning, not everyone believed it would become a reality after so many disappointing attempts,” Toño shared. But, after much hard work and dedication, in the beginning of this year [2017], safe water began running into the homes throughout the three communities.

The only thing left to do was to make the project sustainable, and, more importantly, self-sustainable. A water board, “Las Juntas de Agua,” was developed, under the guidance and training of PWW. This is a committee of volunteers that work together to assure water quality and continuity as well as implement and manage an economic tax for the water service. The creation of this water board ensures monitoring of systems, money for reparations in the future, and funds for purchasing chlorine purifying tablets to keep the water and piping clean.

We are happy to report that, by the time we recently met, Tony’s health has been improving. After five months of treatment, Tony no longer needed the Giardia pills. He is feeling much better. You can tell by the light in his eyes.

We can also report that the water system is working well, and the water committee is learning how to function by itself.

Pure Water for the World would like to thank all of the supporters of this unique project. Your support and financial donations made this project possible. And children, like Tony, no longer must suffer simply from the water they drink. You have changed lives and provided the foundation for lasting change. Thank you so very much.

Here are other stories about the BBQ Project:

Have Water and A Toilet Ever Changed Your Life?

Time For BBQ