“I Don’t Want My Children to Keep Drinking Contaminated Water.”

By Lenin Andino, Community Projects Coordinator

Translated by Natalie Walter, Communications Coordinator

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For the children of rural Nicaraguan communities like Apantillo, clean water means a brighter, healthier future.

Johana López and her 7-year-old son began the three-hour walk from the small village of San Rafael in the community of Apantillo, in Matagalpa, beneath the midday sun. They walked through muddy hills, crossing streams and steep, rocky paths.

In her right hand, Johana carried a long stick to serve as a staff, helping her to maintain her balance and not fall. For the young mother, it was not easy to travel long distances because of her current state: she was six months pregnant. But she had something important to motivate her to take this difficult journey.

“We drank contaminated water for years until we got our filter”

“The delegation of AMOS volunteers had arrived that Tuesday to install a water filter in my house, but I wasn’t there to receive them. I felt sad because they had walked beneath the sun for several hours to get there, so I decided to go to where they were to get my water filter. I knew how important it was that my children start to drink clean water, so I didn’t think twice when I decided to walk three hours to reach them, despite the steep hills along the way,” Johanna expressed. She is one of the 250 people who have benefitted from the Clean Water Program that AMOS has developed with the support of service teams in the community of Apantillo.

Johanna and AMOS volunteers trekked through the difficult Apantillo terrain to make sure that her family could have a water filter.

For many years, Johana, her husband, and her 6 and 7-year-old children had been drinking water from a nearby river, located fifteen minutes from their house. Their story is similar to many families in Nicaragua who live in rural communities, and don’t have access to potable water. “We drank water from the river because we had no other alternative,” Johana sadly commented, remembering the results obtained by a water analysis conducted by AMOS alongside the health committee of Apantillo, in which fecal material was found in the water they had been drinking for years. Today, the family that before drank contaminated water, now has their own ceramic water filter at home, which provides them with 20 to 40 liters of water each day. The process of getting the filtered water is surprisingly simple: they only have to run the same river water they had been drinking into the filter’s colander, which strains out the bigger particles like dirt and small stones. Then, the water passes through the first container that connects the ceramic bulb that filters the water into the second bucket, where it is stored until someone wants a drink. The filter is porous and contains particles of silver infused with a substance to eliminate fecal bacteria and the most common microbes which cause diarrhea and other illnesses. The final result is something amazing: clean water for Johana and her family!

This ceramic blub, once attached to the bottom of the water filter’s bucket, removes all dangerous materials from water so that it is suitable to drink.

Hope for the most vulnerable

Now, Johanna and her family can process contaminated source water from rivers or from taps like these with her very own water filter.

The commitment and love Johana has for her family is inspirational. She traveled to where AMOS and the volunteer delegation from the United States were staying that day with a face tired from the long walk. Nevertheless, when the AMOS group returned to install more filters in a sector further away from the community of Apantillo, Johanna stood up joyfully and approached the group to give them the warm welcome that characterizes the people who live in the countryside of Nicaragua. Without a doubt, Johana knew that drinking clean water as soon as possible would improve her health, and the health of her children and baby.

“I don’t want my children, nor the baby I’ll give birth to, to die from continuing to drink contaminated water,” Johana said with tears in her eyes, visibly moved and grateful.

“You help the people who need it the most – most of all mothers, so that our children do not die. I don’t know how I could repay you, but I give you all the thanks I have for the lovely work you do and for giving us health and hope in these difficult days,” she concluded.

Johanna’s dedication helped her reach group of AMOS volunteers who helped her install a water filter in her own home.