Life in Rural Trojes, Honduras

The following is a depiction of home life for families living in a typical community located in the very rural region of Trojes, Honduras, where PWW team members have been delivering comprehensive water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs for over a decade. The photos are actual families and homes located in Trojes, but the specific family described below has been created solely for the purpose of this depiction.

Buenos días. My name is Ariana. I live in a small community of 22 families, located in the Trojes region of Honduras. My husband and I have five children, three boys and two girls. We live in a two-room home next door to my sister and her family; it takes us about 15 minutes to walk through the brush from our home to hers.

Our community is considered “rural, dispersed.” There are no roads between homes, just footpaths that we have created over time. There is a main (very bumpy) dirt road that leads from our community to the main town of Trojes (about 2 hours away), but most of the families (including mine) do not have trucks. Some have motorcycles, but we do not.

Most of my extended family lives in the same community. We all work together to grow coffee and a few other crops, which we sell in the market each year. We also have some cows, pigs, donkeys and chickens.

We do not have running water, telephone service, or electricity in our community. In my home, we use a wood-burning stove that we built for cooking. We collect the wood from the forest around our home.

For water, we have a hose that runs to our home. We worked with our neighbors a few years ago to create a system using hoses (garden-type) to bring water to our houses from the nearby creek. This means we no longer have to haul our water. However, sometimes the hoses don’t work, for example when they get moved out of the water by accident or they get punctures or cracks. When we have these problems, the children and I will walk down to the creek and fill buckets with water to carry home until we can find and fix the problem.

We don’t have a place to take care of our personal necessities at our home. A few years ago, we built a small outhouse for our family to share with my sister’s family, but it’s not safe to walk to at night in the dark, and it’s not safe for our younger children to use because they can fall into the hole if they don’t have help. It’s also full now and we don’t have a way to empty it.

For now, we use the bushes near our homes, as that is easiest. We know it’s not ideal, but with the hurricanes that destroyed our crops two years ago, we have not had the resources to consider something else.

A group of people from the town of Trojes recently visited our community and spoke with us about a safe water and sanitation project. They are with an organization called Pure Water for the World. I’ve heard of them because they have worked in the community near ours. We have heard some amazing stories from families we know who live there.

Pure Water for the World tested the water in our creek and told us it is not safe to drink, as it has dangerous bacteria in it. They explained that this is why we, especially our children, have diarrhea so often and why we have so many infections, rashes and skin problems. We have suspected our water to be the cause of these problems, so they have confirmed this to be true.

My youngest son and oldest daughter have been very sick many times, but we don’t always have the money to bring them to the doctor and the health center is a very long distance away, at least a couple of hours by truck (which, as I mentioned, we do not have).

Some of the children in the community have had worms in their stomachs and have had to go to the city to get medical help or they can die. One of my sister’s children tragically died because he was so sick, but they couldn’t get to the doctor soon enough. We learned that when a child, especially under five, gets dehydrated from diarrhea, getting to the nearest health center can mean the difference between life and death. Our families have had no choice but to use the only water we have, even though it can make our children very sick…or worse.

Pure Water for the World will be coming back to our community very soon. They will be holding community training sessions to teach us how to have reliable safe water for all of our children and families and how to protect ourselves so we will not continue to have these health problems.

They will be helping us install a water system, called a biosand water filter, in our homes, which will remove the harmful bacteria and germs in our water.

They will also help us build latrines that we will be able to take care of and use for a very long time and that will be safe for our children to use.

I have volunteered to work with them as a Community Agent. I’ll be helping them install the filters in the homes of my family members, and I will learn how to make sure the filters are working correctly to protect our families. I will also learn how to build latrines, so that we don’t have the same problems we have now. They will help supply the materials and teach us how to build them correctly. My family will work together to build a latrine for each of our homes. We will also learn about practices to protect our environment, water sources, latrines, homes and our bodies to support our health.

Pure Water for the World is even going to work in our local school and build an entire bathroom facility, with girls and boys bathrooms, sinks for washing hands, and safe water for drinking at school.

They are going to teach our children’s teachers about how to integrate WASH concepts into their existing school lessons. They are even going to provide resources and teach practices for our girls to safely manage their menstrual cycle at school.

When I learned they will be teaching our teachers, families and children about puberty and menstruation, I became excited as I’m very interested in this topic.

When I was growing up, we did not discuss puberty, so I have much to learn. When I started menstrual bleeding, as a young teenager, I was taught that it meant I was sick (this is what my mom told me and her mom told her). I had to stay home from school when I bled and, finally, I just quit school because I couldn’t let others know this was happening. I was very disappointed, but I didn’t know of other choices. I was also taught that I have to avoid eating many kinds of foods when I bleed, which leaves me with little to eat during this time each month. I have never really done well with managing the blood when it comes; we live so far from stores and can’t afford the pads they sell. I also don’t know what to do with them after they are used. We don’t have anyone who comes to get our trash, so we burn it or bury it, but that doesn’t seem right to me. So most of the time I just use rags that I can find and rinse them in the creek when I’m doing the laundry. But I have had some very bad infections that I think are caused by doing this. I understand they will teach us ways to safely and effectively manage all of this, which will be great for me, my daughters, and even their daughters years from now!

I am looking very forward to learning more from the people with Pure Water for the World, and I can’t wait for the day that we have a clean water filter and a safe place to use the bathroom at our home. It will be the most amazing blessing to be able to protect my health, the health of my family and the health of our community!