Although water is usually abundant in Honduras, the drinking water in this area of Honduras is contaminated with bacteria and parasites. Water is pumped into pilas (cisterns) close to most homes, but it is not safe to drink. Even the public water system in La Villa de San Francisco is contaminated. Bottled water is available, but it is prohibitively expensive for the poor. Consequently only contaminated water is available.
As a result, stomach and intestinal illnesses are endemic throughout this area of the country, and adults and children miss an inordinate amount of work or school. In this part of Honduras, missing work is quite costly, because the laborers in the sugar cane and watermelon fields are paid only when they work. The harvest season lasts only six months, and there is no government safety net. Additionally if workers miss too much work they may be immediately dismissed from their seasonal jobs.
Once a year a Honduras Hope Mission (HHM) medical team provides free medical care to the residents of La Villa de San Francisco and surrounding villages. As a part of these medical clinics, HHM contributes portable water filters to the local families who come to the clinics – one per family. These filters provide clean water for two years. With the help of Ingomar Living Waters over the past ten years, HHM has distributed 3,967 water filters.
The filters we use are low-tech, compared to other, more complicated systems, that would be prone to breaking down. Cleaning and repairing the filters are the responsibility of the individual families. At the time of distribution, we instruct the families in how to clean and maintain the filters, so as to prolong their effectiveness. Replacement parts, if needed, are available from a local individual who resides in La Villa, and who is supplied with parts by the manufacturer, Aqua de Barro. Instructions are also attached to each filter, stating how to care for them, and whom to contact if the filter is damaged. There are no repair costs incurred by HHM. Because the filters produce clean water for two years, they need to be regularly replaced on this schedule.
The impact of these filters on the health of the community has been dramatic. Health workers, pastors and teachers in the various communities have noticed a significant improvement in the health of both adults and children. Gastrointestinal illnesses have declined significantly (up to 90 percent.) Adults are missing less work and children less school. Families have learned to take bottled water from their homes to work and school. Schools and churches in the area that are visited by the HHM medical teams are also provided with water filters.
On average, each filter will be used by a family of four. Thus we project that clean water will be provided to around 2,000 people. These tend to be the poorest of the poor in these communities, those who cannot afford to purchase bottled water.
As mentioned previously, these filters dramatically reduce the gastrointestinal illnesses that plague this area of Honduras. In addition, by hosting the HHM medical clinics, the churches that serve as hosts are provided an opportunity to share the love of Christ with those in their communities in a very tangible way, by distributing the filters, and also by sharing the gospel verbally with individuals who come to the clinics.
Honduras Water Filters – 2022
As in prior years, the Honduras Hope Mission distributed water filters funded by Ingomar Living Waters for families in La Villa de San Francisco, Honduras. 500 filters were manufactured by a family run business in Honduras and delivered to the HHM medical team the last week of January. The filters are delivered to the medical team unassembled. Because the U.S. medical team was once again unable to travel to Honduras this year due to COVID-19, a team of volunteers from a local church assembled the filters in preparation for the door-to-door visits throughout la Villa.
Although water is relatively abundant in Honduras, it is not safe for drinking. Most people in La Villa receive water from the county/city but it is not considered purified and typically is stored outdoors in a pila where additional contamination occurs. Water in La Villa contains germs and parasites which create significant health problems for the population. A study was done several years ago which showed that our filters reduce intestinal problems by approximately 90%. Thus, children are able to attend school, adults do not have
to miss work, and medicines are not needed to treat these stomach issues.
As the Honduran doctors, nurses and pharmacists traveled door-to-door to perform their medical examinations, they also passed out the water filters. Most of the filters were delivered to families which we assume average about 4 individuals per household. Thus, we estimate that for the next two years, around 2,000 people will have access to clean water. Several water filters were also delivered to the church that provided the volunteers.
As the filters are distributed, families are shown how to clean and maintain the filters. They are instructed to not use chemicals or hard brushes so to not damage the filter. Typically, it takes about 2 hours for all the water to pass through the filter. Once it does, the water is clean to drink. Families are taught to take water from the filters to work or school. They are reminded that there is no benefit in drinking clean water at home and then drinking water with impurities outside the home.
Covid Made Things More Difficult But Didn’t Stop US
Covid continues to be a serious concern in Honduras. Much the same as here in the U.S., the number of cases reported daily surged following Christmas, reaching as high as 921 cases per day in January. Anticipating this, the Honduras Hope Mission Board decided it would still be too risky to take a team of North American doctors and support staff to Honduras. (Not only was there a concern that team members might become ill, but also that if any individuals even just tested positive for Covid, they would need to quarantine in Honduras and would not be permitted to return to the U.S. until their quarantine period was completed – thereby greatly extending the length of time they would need to stay in Honduras.)
As a result, once again this year we opted to carry out our medical clinics from January 24-28, utilizing a combination of telehealth providers here in the U.S. and Honduran doctors going door-to-door in La Villa de San Francisco, Honduras.
Above: Doctors, working out of the offices of Genesis Medical Associates in the town of McCandless, PA
(upper left photo,) examined patients using a telehealth application and What’s App.
Below: The patients, members of our Hope and Promise Children families, were in a facility in La Villa de San Francisco,
Honduras. After their exams they were given any needed prescriptions, and if necessary,referred for follow-up to one
of the Honduran doctors working with our mission.
Below: Our team of Honduran doctors traveled door to door up and down the streets of La Villa de San Francisco, examining patients.
Water filters were provided to all of the households
Over the five days of the clinics, a total of 557 patients were examined via telehealth and 928 through home visits. Patients were provided with 4,918 prescriptions. 500 water filters were distributed. 77 patients were also examined by our Honduran dentist (below.) 49 received cleanings, 25 had teeth pulled, 1 was referred for additional surgery, and 1 was evaluated, but needed no treatment.
Below: Old suitcases that had been left in Honduras by some of our previous team members were given to the
Hope Families to use for storage, since most of them do not have dressers or clothes closets.
Above: Bible story books were distributed to the children.
2022 marks the 18th year that the Honduras Hope Mission has been serving the impoverished people in
La Villa de San Francisco, Honduras. We thank all of you for your prayers and financial support. Without your help
none of this would have been possible. We also offer a special word of thanks to our mission partners: Ingomar
Living Waters, Global Links, Map International, Brother’s Brother Foundation, and the many churches and Rotary Clubs who partner with us in sharing God’s love with the Honduran people.
Together we are making a difference!