Global Water Brigades: The Test We Aced

By Program Associate Sarah Diver in Honduras

One of the biggest things many people take for granted is waking up in the morning and turning on the faucet to take a shower, wash our face or brush our teeth. In the community of El Saucito located in the south of Honduras, it was not this simple. Their nearest water source is over two hours walk away, making it a journey that every woman of the house in this community would need to embark on every single day to collect water for the house or do laundry. There are a few wells in El Saucito but the water was not sufficient for every member, especially during the dry season in Southern Honduras.

Children from the school getting the first chance to turn the tap alongside GB Honduras Program Lead Marco Landa

Designing and implementing a water system was not a quick process for either El Saucito or Global Brigades. In June 2016, they began designing the water system with University of Manchester and University of California Irvine but with the community’s struggles to fundraise for electricity, it took many years to raise sufficient funds to begin work on the proposed design. Global Water Brigades made a partnerships with a Congressman from the department of Valle and the Municipality of Nacome, and in May 2018, Global Brigades finally began to break ground with the first Water Brigade in El Saucito! It was an emotional day for both volunteers and community members.

At this point, I was just beginning my final brigade as a volunteer with Dublin City University before starting my new position as a Program Associate with Global Brigades in Honduras at the end of June, 2018. When we started our first day of digging there was so much excitement in El Saucito as the project was in full swing. The relationships I made in that short week were ones I would remember forever. There was always a little extra something for me, knowing that in a few months I would be able return to see the finished project.

In June, I started my position as a Program Associate and was so busy with training and brigades that I never got the opportunity to return to El Saucito to contribute more work to the project. I could see that the system was moving along very quickly with different brigades working in throughout the summer months, but I was eager to get back and reconnect with the community members and the Water Council to feel the energy as the project was drawing to a close.

In mid-September as the busy brigade season was coming to an end, Marco Landa, WASH Program Director in Honduras, and Water Technician Orlin Rivera, came to tell me that on September we would travel to El Saucito to turn on the water system for the first time. We started our drive early on the morning, and I can’t explain the excitement I felt knowing that this was they day that the lives of people in El Saucito would change forever.

Water Technician Orlin Rivera performing a water quality test to ensure that the water has been treated properly

We met with members of the community at the elementary school, and as soon as I stepped out of the landcruiser I could hear people calling my name. I recognized familiar faces that I had worked alongside just a few months ago, and together we went to the water tank. In groups, everyone got to turn on the faucet little by little; once it was fully open everyone ran to the nearest house to see if it had worked. It was tense at the beginning, because all that came from the faucet was air – I could feel my heart sink to the bottom of my stomach and I could see the disappointment in the faces of the kids, adults and elders of the community.

Members of the Water Council making the next turn of the tap

Finally, water began to flow from the faucet and the energy in the community turned electric. Along with two other Program Associates, we walked around the entire community to ensure that the flow was good in every single house. As we walked from house to house we saw countless happy faces filling containers with water. The community of El Saucito worked extremely hard to finish this project and finally after almost two and a half years their dreams had come true.

If you are interested in starting a Water Chapter at your university, check out www.waterbrigades.org.

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