Although water is usually abundant in Honduras, the drinking water in this area of Honduras is contaminated with bacteria and parasites. 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. That is why water filters are needed. Water is pumped into pilas close to most homes, but is unsafe to drink.
Only contaminated water is available, and as a result, stomach and intestinal illnesses are endemic throughout this area of the country. Adults and children miss an inordinate amount of work and school as a result. In this part of Honduras missing work is quite costly, because the laborers in sugar cane and watermelon fields are only paid when they work. The harvest season lasts only a few months per crop, and there is no government safety net. If workers miss too much work they may be immediately dismissed from their jobs.
Once each year the Honduras Hope Mission medical team provides free medical care to the residents of La Villa de San Francisco and surrounding villages. As part of these medical clinics, HHM distributes portable water filters to families who come to the clinic – one per family. These filters provide clean, safe drinking water for two years. With the help of the Ingomar Living Waters ministry, over the past 12 years, HHM has distributed 5,467 water filters. The impact of these filters on the community has been dramatic. Health workers, pastors, and teachers in various communities have noticed a significant improvement in the health of both adults and children. Gastro-intestinal 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 visited by HHM medical teams are also provided with water filters.
Cleaning and repairing the filters is the responsibility of the individual families. At the time of distribution, we instruct the families on 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 is no repair cost incurred by HHM. Because the lifespan of the filters is two years, they need to be replaced on that schedule.
We estimate that each filter will be used by a family of four to five persons, thus we project that clean water will be provided to 2,000 to 2,500 people [annually]. These tend to be the poorest families in the community (those who cannot afford to purchase bottled water.) As mentioned previously, we have testimonials that these filters dramatically reduce gastro-
intestinal illnesses that plague this area of Honduras.
The churches that host the clinics are provided an opportunity to share the love of Christ with their communities in a very tangible way, and also to share the gospel verbally with those who come to the clinics. Children who come to the clinics are given children’s Bible storybooks, and adults who are witnessed to by volunteers are given Bibles.