Hi all! This March Aztech Labs visited the village of La Colonia on Roatan island in Honduras. We were shown around the place by the church treasurer Marvin, and the village pastor Oswaldo. This town is quite poor, located on a mountain and has no natural access to fresh water. Unlike other places, they actually had a functioning way to clean water. The five hundred families of this town were really struggling to get by, so another group, called the Living Water for Roatan helped pay for a project both to drill wells for the village and gave them a purifying system for the town. We checked out this current water filtration system of theirs and were taught about La Colonia’s way of distributing water within their community.
We were very fascinated by their system, which was actually quite great. It’s capable of supplying the whole 4,000 person town with clean water! It chlorinates the well water to help purify the well water. Chlorine is very effective at this job, leaving water essentially untainted. The main drawback is usually that it is a one use chemical, which cannot be reused, unlike water filters, which are used repeatedly for years. Yet the Miox filtration system they actually gets around this, it is able to turn salt into chlorine, ensuring a dependable supply.
However, there has been a recent kink in the system, their Miox chlorine transmogrifier has broken, forcing them to have to buy chlorine tablets to use instead. This emphasizes an important lesson, that as a charity, you can’t simply give out water filters and then leave expecting for the problem to just be solved. You have to make sure you properly educate the village to properly maintain. And, especially if you have an individual system that supports the whole community, it’s very important to check back on your projects and make sure that they have not fallen apart after your departure. Luckily, the cost of the tablets is low, and is not that big of a problem.
Instead, the larger issue is the cost of transporting the water. Monthly, the town uses approximately $4,350 worth of electricity to get this water to all the households of the town. This was because a large amount of the village is uphill from the wells, and must be piped against gravity. Ironically, while this area costs more to send water towards, the people there are actually poorer, and less likely to be able to afford . To pay for the transportation and maintenance, the town must bill each family around $12 per month, which in this poor town is actually quite considerable. People who do not pay repeatedly, or otherwise abuse the water get their water supply cut. This means that those who are unable to afford this end up not able to benefit from the system that was donated.
We would like to help fix this problem, lowering the cost of this transport, either by means of purchasing solar panels or more cost effective water pumps. We are currently in the process of contacting Living Water for Roatan about this and will work out a solution. We’re figuring out which the best solution, we want to make sure that what ever we end up choosing will not only work, but last. We don’t want to simply pay for a month’s electricity or something, we want to make the system’s bills affordable for everyone in La Colonia.
We didn’t forget to help out the town during our visit though! During our visit, we made a difference by donating clothes and pencils to the children of the village. Zach tends to collect dropped pencil at school, and has overtime created quite a horde:
We decided to take some of this huge pile to Honduras, and handed out hundreds of them to various children in La Colonia. They were very thankful and we were happy to help. In addition to handing out some pencils we also gave some more pencils to the church’s school along with some old clothes of ours. We believe our gifts were very helpful and will bring the students there great happiness. Allowing them to work harder at school as well as giving them more clothes to wear. However, we aren’t done, we want to help this town even more and need your help to continue!