It is very hot in Guatemala. When it is hot, you need to drink lots of water. If you do not drink lots of water, your body gets dehydrated. Children die here from dehydration. And this is very, very sad. When I don't drink enough water, I get dizzy. In Guatemala, I usually carry a water bottle with me wherever I go.
In your homes, when you are thirsty, you just fill a glass from the water tap in the kitchen or bathroom. At school there is usually a line at the drinking fountain. You can get a glass of water to drink anytime and anywhere. It is so easy, that you don't even think about it.
If I drank water from anywhere here in Guatemala, I would probably get sick. I am very careful about the water I drink. The water here is not purified as it is in the USA. The water here has bacteria and other things that would cause me to get sick. We are told when we come to Guatemala not to have ice in our drinks and not to order salad in a place where you are not sure that it has been washed with purified water. Since the people here have been drinking the water for all their lives, it is less likely that the adults will get sick because their bodies are used to it. That doesn't mean that it is good water, however, or that it is good for their bodies. We think that lots of the children get sick and stay sick because of bad water.
I use a water filter for all the water that I drink unless I buy purified bottled water, but that gets expensive. SewHope sells the water filters to families so that they can have clean water to drink. Though the water filters cost us more than $40 each, we sell them to the people for about $15. The filters can even take dirt out of muddy water and you can drink it.
Water isn't even available in most places all day long. In my apartment, the water is available less than half the time. So, if the water is not on, I can't wash my hands from the faucet or take a shower. Either I have to use a bucket or wait until the water comes back on. The water is usually off from 6 in the evening until 7 or so in the morning. It is also off for about two hours in the afternoon. I am lucky that I have a bathroom and a shower. Most people here use a pit toilet that doesn't need any water and they put a plastic tarp around some pieces of wood and bring a bucket of water into it to shower.
Unless you are staying in an expensive hotel, there is no hot running water at all. Water is something that I have to think about here. I cannot take it for granted.
Giving someone here a glass of clean water is a real gift!
The shoe and purse project that the Sisters of Notre Dame is sponsoring is a fundraiser to earn money to provide clean water to more families and schools in Guatemala.
Sr. Pam Buganski
Sr. Pam joined SewHope as our first American Project Coordinator in 2012