Pictured above: Water1st Board Chair, Cecilia Whatley, with project beneficiary, Eva, from San Lorenzo
Twenty-five supporters from Chicago, Phoenix, San Francisco, Austin, Dallas, and Seattle, as well as our Global Fellows, joined us for an unforgettable week in Honduras. Travelers endured miles of rough roads to experience spectacular scenery, a tour of a local coffee farm, the Mayan Ruins of Copan, and the opportunity to witness Hondurans changing their own lives through the construction of a water project. The Honduran hospitality, cultural pride, and homemade tortillas were second to none. Read on for trip highlights!
Before leaving for Honduras, I imagined I’d feel something along the lines of sadness and sympathy when traveling to the villages (to meet project communities). What I actually experienced was much more unique and powerful. Before Honduras, I never could have imagined what a person could or would endure to bring clean water to their homes and I didn’t understand the strength that could come from a group of people sharing one common goal. What I’ve learned from the people on this trip is much greater than anything I could give back to them. I was able to see firsthand the unfair circumstances, but these were the strongest, most inspiring people I have ever encountered. One day, I hope to have the chance to go back to Honduras (hopefully Spanish skills above the pre-K level). Until then, I would love to do what I can here in the States to show my support and admiration for the work being done in Honduras and elsewhere. As is now clear from the trench-digging day, their work is far more difficult than my gym-deprived body could handle. – Hannah Bruce, Chicago
Water Tours continue to be a powerful tool to connect those who are struggling to meet their basic needs with those who want to show solidarity with them. The Water1st community is providing real solutions to life-threatening issues in Honduras, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and now Mozambique. Through the Water Tour, supporters witness effective solutions in action. But, most importantly, two communities come together and express their care and concern for one another. This human interaction adds a dimension to our work that can’t be measured ― until you join us and feel that impact for yourself.
WATER TOUR HIGHLIGHTS
Water Inauguration Ceremony
Representing all Water1st donors, we participated in two inauguration ceremonies for eight new water projects. Community members wrote original poetry, songs, and skits to show their gratitude. Vicente Martinez shared, “Thank you, Agua Primero! We feel so much joy as women because we are the first to wake up every morning to start our many tasks, many of them related to water. There is not a single person here today who is not happy.”
Walking for Water in El Sompopo
We hiked with the women of El Sompopo to their current water source, a murky water hole at the base of a steep mountain slope. We filled our containers alongside women and children and carried the water to several homes. Completing this hike just once shed light on the back-breaking reality of the women and girls who spend their days making this grueling trek.
On the walk we met Innocentia, who has been carrying water every day for over 50 years. One of our Global Fellows filled his container to the top and was struggling on the steep, slippery trail. We let him know he could pour out a little water if he needed to. His reply, “If Innocentia does this three times every day with a full container, I want to do it once to really understand what she has to experience.”
A Work Day in San Lorenzo
The community of San Lorenzo demonstrated organizational leadership and community commitment at its best, as they worked together to dig miles of deep trench up and down rugged mountainsides. We worked alongside them one day to try to understand the enormity of their construction task.
With every Water1st project, community members contribute labor, which includes digging up to 15 miles of trench, all by hand, using simple pick axes and shovels, and laying heavy pipe weighing as much as 500 pounds per segment. For seven months, three days a week, they wake up at 3:00AM to walk many miles to the project site, work for several hours, and walk back home after dark ― this is in addition to their regular work as subsistence farmers. Volunteer ‘sweat equity’ is critical to the success of the project. It is not a hand out. When the community works hard to build their system, they understand how it works and will make sure it never fails.
After our exhausting effort to help dig trench, we enjoyed a traditional workers’ lunch break of homemade pupusas, prepared by women from San Lorenzo. Together, we warmed our tortillas over the campfire and ate alongside our new friends.
Gathering of Thanks at the Water Distribution Tank
We were invited to gather with members of the 18 communities involved in this largest-ever water project. After hiking up a mountainside to the location of their water distribution tank, we were met with spectacular views of the Cordillera de Celaque mountain range, as well as 300 smiling Hondurans, many carrying signs of gratitude. Representatives from each community spoke and thanked Water1st donors for making their project possible.
Water Committee members shared their bookkeeping records, tracking the hours each community member has worked. Approximately 25,000 work days have been contributed so far (the project is 50% complete) to install 15 miles of pipeline. Using a $15/hour labor cost, that is over $3 million dollars in volunteer labor.
WATER1ST GLOBAL FELLOWS
Our Global Fellows enthusiastically participated each step of the way—observing our community-led philosophy of development firsthand and attending evening reflection sessions related to global development topics. We are honored to have this extraordinary group of students as advocates for the global water crisis.
This was the most incredible experience of my life. Life changing. – Peter Lenz, 11th grade, Water1st Global Fellow
This was my first time being blessed with the opportunity to travel with Water1st. I have been involved with the organization since I found out about it in the 5th grade, and hope to continue to support its inspiring and impactful mission far into my future. I am incredibly grateful that I was able to meet so many amazing people and experience their kindness and love. It was truly inspiring to witness so many people being united by love to work for something that is a basic human need. – Audrey Donahue, 9th grade, Water1st Global Fellow
We met people from three surrounding villages at a water tank on top of a hill. They met us to express their gratitude for funding their water project. In the hours leading up to this demonstration of thanks, we watched them dig trenches and install water pipes, and ate an amazing meal they prepared. I found all I wanted to do was thank them, yet here they were going out of their way to thank us. The mutual respect and gratitude in everyone present showed the significance of being a global citizen. I hold this moment and feeling close, knowing that people are capable of respect, collaboration, and kindness. – Emily Piette, 11th grade, Water1st Global Fellow
YOUR SUPPORT FUNDS THE ‘BEST OF THE BEST’
Our projects in Honduras are exceptional in every way. They provide clean water and toilets at each household. Families have 24/7 access to clean water for drinking, washing hands, cooking, bathing, laundry, and small gardens. Not only are the water systems and toilets extremely well designed, the community organization component is the gold standard, ensuring that your investment will last for generations.
TRAVEL WITH US
We feel very fortunate that so many of our supporters are able to travel with us to learn more about our work and to meet the hard working people in our project communities. Our partner organizations and our project beneficiaries feel respected by your visits and that makes us extremely proud. If you’re interested in traveling, please contact us.