Water system opens door to new hope

Josefina with water bottlesIn Olivero,  Dominican Republic, a water system changed the lives of the people living there. It might seem strange, but it caused relationships to happen that otherwise would have not. It also made dreams come true. Such was true for Josefina, a widow in her late 50s and the mother of 10 children.

When Josefina’s children lived at home, they would carry water from the local wells or dirty river, using heavy buckets balanced on their heads. With her children gone, and her strength drained by age and a hard rural life, Josefina was unable to carry water herself.

So she saved up her pesos to hire local children to carry her water. She limited how much she used for drinking, cooking and bathing. She worried about how she would be able to cope in years to come. She dreamed of an easier life.

New hope in Olivero

When Food for the Hungry started working in Olivero in 2008, Josefina and her neighbors were discouraged. They’d been promised solutions to their water problem before, and all had failed. Water was their first priority and it seemed no one could help them.

Then, through FH, a dedicated and passionate group of friends from the U.S., led by FH supporters Patrick and Gay Campbell, visited Olivero personally and saw the suffering due to lack of water.  They put their passion into action and raised more than $20,000 to install a water system that brought water to people’s homes. Members of the community donated labor to dig the trenches, and the municipal government contributed some heavy equipment for construction.

But the there was another step — purifying the water so it was drinkable.  Through a partnership with Healing Waters International, a Christian organization specializing in water treatment, and generosity of additional donors, the community acquired a water treatment facility. The clean water changed the life of not only Josefina, but others, like a man named Fausto.

Fausto at the water kiosk

Fausto explains how the drinking water purification system works

Changing the world, one person at a time

Fausto was a man without direction. Everything he tried, he seemed to fail at due to his extreme shyness. However, now Fausto is a key member of getting clean water to his community.

You can find Fausto by locating the small, blue storefront in the village where the water treatment system is housed.  Fausto runs the water system as a volunteer.

This very important job has given Fausto new confidence. He greets those who walk up to the storefront and can explain how the water system works. He fills up five-gallon jugs with clean, treated water.

And because of Fausto, older people like Josefina don’t have to worry about hiring someone to bring them drinking water. Fausto makes rounds to the homes of those who can’t fetch water. He even takes water over to the school when his shift is finished.

The change continues

Josefina and Fausto are just two examples of how the water system has made profound changes in Olivero. Other examples are the community’s children. Having a consistent water source has helped get new agricultural programs off the ground, which has improved children’s nutrition.

FH’s Dominican Republic Country Director Martha Butler de Lister says, “There are plenty of other people, even in this country, who do similar water treatment work,” Martha says. “But [Food for the Hungry and Healing Waters International] meet at one point that’s very important: holistic ministry.”

Josefina, Fausto and the FH staff are grateful to the Campbells, their friends and Healing Waters International for the water system. Working together – bound together by Jesus Christ – they opened doors that allowed people in Olivero to reach their potential, enjoy clean water and learn to trust again.

“There is peace in this relationship,” says Martha. “What I see happening is that with the arrival of clean water in this community, people started believing that there’s somebody caring for them.”

Providing a gift to Food for the Hungry’s worldwide water efforts can help other communities feel that God has not forgotten them. With your gift, families and children will not only have water to drink, but will also receive a gift of Living Water that nourishes the soul.

About Beth Allen

I'm a self-professed sustainable development geek who would have a very hard time picking a favorite country. That means, I love every tribe and nation and take great joy in seeing how God is working in the world. I've been with FH for nearly two decades, and started out by serving with them in the Bolivian Andes. I can't live without Jesus and coffee, but the coffee is mostly decaf so the power is from Jesus.

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