A Week in Honduras (a blog post from U.S. Water)

Written by Aimee Ranallo, of U.S. Water. Click here for original blog post. Shared with permission. 

A team of U.S. Water volunteers recently returned from a week-long trip with Pure Water for the World, supporting underserved children and families in the Trojes region in Honduras. UNICEF has identified Trojes as a “high-need” and “underserved” community, as waterborne illness and even deaths, have been widespread. Pure Water for the World has been supporting this community since 2009, and during June’s trip, U.S. Water’s volunteers traveled throughout the Trojes region to deliver sustainable and safe water solutions through a variety of programs including filtration, sanitation and education.

“It was truly one of the best experiences of my life!” said Britney Kotilinek, U.S. Water’s Sr. Marketing Communications Associate. “I feel so lucky that U.S. Water and Pure Water for the World were able to send us to volunteer in Honduras and make a difference in so many families’ daily lives.”

Pure Water for the World utilizes bio-sand purification systems as an economical and effective water solution in the areas they serve. Polluted water is poured into the top of the filter through a diffuser plate, then percolates through multiple grades of sand and gravel within the filter to remove contaminants and pathogens. A wet bacterial layer at the top keeps “good” bacteria fed and alive to produce clean water for use for drinking, bathing and cooking. The bio-sand filters are about the size of an office water cooler, are low in cost, require no power, and are simple to use and maintain.

While in Trojes, volunteers installed bio-sand filters in multiple community locations. Due to the high demand and limited resources, these groups had been waiting over four years to receive their filter. Thirty-nine filters were installed in family homes, providing safe water for approximately 235 people. The Trojes new mother’s health clinic received two filters to create a safe environment for women preparing to give birth. One filter was installed in the children’s lunch center where children in need are served meals, and the Trojes Catholic Seminary also received one filter to support its students.

“Supporting the Trojes community with my experience as a water treatment provider gave me a totally different perspective,” explained Matt Gittings, a U.S. Water Sales Representative. “I was geeking out about the technology and proud of the impact it was having on the community. It was really awesome to be a part of.”

The volunteers also completed water and sanitation projects at two schools. A total of six latrines, three handwashing stations and two bio-sand filters will help prevent the spread of harmful parasites for current and future children and teachers. To establish a sustainable program for future generations, the Pure Water for the World organization teaches children and teachers the important role hygiene plays in the prevention of waterborne disease prior to installing these life-saving tools. In addition to completing the previous projects, volunteers also presented an array of school supplies to the 153 students at the schools.

“When traveling to the schools, clinics and homes, we were able to interact with the children and it was so much fun. My Spanish isn’t very good, but love and laughter is translated the same in every language,” described Angela Grant, Tonka Water’s Equipment Sales Support. “The role I played in supporting these communities is a trip I will remember forever.”

On their last day in Trojes, volunteers administered deworming medication and hygiene kits to over 380 children and adults. Even with filtration units in place, environmental exposure to unfiltered water sources can lead to waterborne illnesses and it is recommended the community receives deworming medication every six months. The volunteers spent their afternoon with the families and playing with the children, painting their nails and applying temporary tattoos.

“It was humbling to see how grateful and happy the kids and families in the communities were for something we take advantage of in the U.S.,” said Nicole Nolden, U.S. Water’s HR Talent and Acquisition Specialist. “I experienced firsthand the difference U.S. Water made in the Trojes communities and I would absolutely recommend participating in a trip like this in the future!”

U.S. Water empowers our organization and its employees to have purposeful expressions of generosity through the sharing of our time and resources with our Changing the World program. We were honored to support Pure Water for the World, and their mission, in Honduras.

Pure Water for the World would like to thank the entire team at U.S. Water for selecting PWW as part of your Changing the World program. Much was accomplished by the volunteers, with your support, and their hard work and dedication has provided a foundation for vastly improved health and a much brighter future for the children and families in Trojes.