"Buena Vista, with more than 300 homes, is one of the communities which does not have access to a local clean water source."
Water is something many of us take for granted. We turn on our taps and water comes out. For the most part, it is clean and drinkable straight from the tap. This is not the case for the community of Buena Vista, located on the mountainsides outside the capital city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Schools of Hope, a non-government organization (NGO) founded by Randy and Judy Lundrigan, has been serving this community in conjunction with ERDO since 2010. After Hurricane Mitch destroyed parts of the city in 1998, people have been living in poverty for almost 20 years. The government gave them the land to start over, but there was nothing there. Today there is still no piping for running water, very little drainage, and no sewage for more than 25,000 people.
Buena Vista, with more than 300 homes,is one of the communities which does not have access to a local clean water source. Families must buy water from trucks that drive through the mountainous dirt streets almost every day. This water, however, is not purified or drinkable and must be boiled first. If a family had money, they could buy five-gallon jugs of purified water. But for a community that struggles to provide meals, shelter and education for their children, the cost is too high.
In October 2016, Schools of Hope, in partnership with ERDO, attempted to dig a well in this mountainside community. Sadly, water was found and then lost during the drilling process. It wasn’t for lack of trying, that is for sure, but it was a great disappointment for the community and our team. We did not want to give up on the people of Buena Vista, so with the help of ERDO, we regrouped and came up with a new plan.
More than 300 evangelical mission organizations work throughout the country of Honduras, so I decided to find out what other ministries were doing, specifically with water filtration. In May 2017, our water project team led by Don Santos, community president of Buena Vista, went on an exploratory trip to check out three different water filtration systems. Our goal was to decide which system would work best for the community. It needed to be something they would use and buy into. The decision was made to move forward with Hydraid® biosand filters for homes.
Last October, we kicked off the water filtration project in Buena Vista. Words cannot describe how excited our team was. We met with everyone in the community to share the details and installed the first biosand filter in Don Santos’s home as a test. Our goal is to have 300 filters installed in homes by the end of 2019, as well as six pressurized systems in public schools where Schools of Hope offer feeding programs.
You are likely wondering—what is a biosand filter, and how does it work? A biosand filter is a device that allows you to pour bad water into sand and rock and have it come out clean. Really—it does! It is God’s natural filter. It is a plastic container designed to hold layers of sand and gravel that allow a live level of bacteria to grow. The live bacteria eat the bad bacteria as the water filters through it, providing clean drinking water. The filter life is more than 10 years, providing drinking water for an entire household. It takes about 30 minutes to filter five gallons of water, and the device can filter over 25 gallons a day.
These filters are more than just plastic containers filled with sand and rock. They bring hope. They restore dignity. They represent wellness and health. They also represent an open door into homes. Our focus in the followup process is not just to check in on filters, but to follow up with families and share about the Living Water, Jesus Christ. For the past seven years, God has opened the doors for Schools of Hope to share the gospel in 15 public schools, with almost 6,000 children. Now God is opening doors into people’s homes, and we did not even have to ask!
There are a few things in life that I am super passionate about. One of those is families doing life together. As we’ve been installing water filters in homes, it has become a family affair. And I love it! We require that the entire family be present on the day of installation. It hasn’t always been possible, but for the most part family members are there to assist our team in installing the filter. It takes about an hour, so there are a few steps that anyone, no matter their age, can help with. To install a filter, the sand and gravel are rinsed and then layered inside the filter. We have had fun “washing dirt” together and getting to know families.
Every family has been so grateful. They would say, “Please tell the Canadian people ‘Thank you. Thank you for providing the filters for our homes.’ ” Each family contributes a small portion of the cost toward the filters so they can own it, but most of the funds are donated by people like you. For many, it is humbling that a person they do not know would do this for them; that is why they are so grateful. I love that we can partner with families in this way because I know it will benefit them all for many years to come—and the spiritual impact is eternal.
Kathy Mizen serves as the director of Schools of Hope Honduras and has been a global worker with the PAOC since 2014. Previously, Kathy served as a children’s pastor for 20 years and has always had a passion for kids and missions. Follow Kathy on Facebook or learn more about the ministry of Schools of Hope Honduras at. You can fund a family water filtration unit by visiting: erdo.ca/clean-water.
Photo courtesy Kathy Mizen. Don Santos, community president, at the first installation.
This article appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of testimony, the bimonthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.