|Reina (middle) enjoys a glass of clean water with her friends.|
It’s a sunny day, you can hear the roosters sing and the smell of fresh coffee lingers around the house of Mrs. Reina Herrera. She lives in the community of Nueva Coyola, a beautiful community with access to clean water. “Having access to clean water gives me the opportunity to take care of my house, spend more time with my family and live a healthy life,” Mrs. Reina says. She has been living for many years in this community. “I remember when I was a child, my mom, my sibling and I used to wake very early in the morning, around 4:00 am to find water. I was only 6 years old.
At that age I had to carry small jugs back and forth to my house,” she recalls. This was an activity that has been done for many generations, since her sons, Brian, Luis Fernando and Juan Carlos had to search for water, just as their mother did when she was young.
The water they were drinking was contaminated with human and animal feces, but this was their only water source. Because of this many children and adults suffered from diarrhea, stomach diseases and skin rashes. “I remember, how my children use to suffer from hepatitis, there was not a week where I did not go to the health center because these guy’s were sick, and not only that… I had to get back home [to do chores], I’d walk 30 minutes to the river, pick up water, and wash our clothes and come back home to take care of my children. Those were very hard days,” she says. After living 42 years in the community, she never thought that she would have access to clean water or see clean water at her home. But her life was about to change. World Vision came into the community and started a water project. They organized the community and created a water committee where she was elected as the president. Every day, for 8 months she led 82 people and tasked them with carrying construction materials and building the water tank. At the same time, she made sure that everybody in the community was being trained in basic sanitation and hygiene by World Vision.
Today diarrhea and stomach diseases have been reduced. People no longer walk to search for water in the community. People have been trained in the proper use of water, how to boil it before they drink it or use a drop of chlorine. The community learned how to keep their house and children clean to achieve better sanitation and health. Now that the project is finished, Mrs. Reina no longer walks long distances to have access to clean water. Her children don’t get sick anymore and everybody has improved health. “I feel very happy, now I have time to spend with my friends, drink coffee, keep the house clean and attend to World Vision visitors... By the way, would you like a glass of fresh water?” she asks, with a laugh, while two of her friends arrive for afternoon coffee.