In Nicaragua, it is hot. It is the end of the dry season. Rains are expected to start in June. Although, we learn that there is now no predicting the once-reliable weather patterns. In fact, it doesn’t rain much anymore at all.
Pedro, Engineer and Nicaragua Water Project lead with partner organization, Centro Humboldt, navigates the backroads of the Chinandega region, and I wonder how he can possibly find his way without a map. Landmarks include sugar cane fields, coconut palms, and Volcan Casita – what’s left of it anyway. The side of Volcan Casita came down in the land slide during Hurricane Mitch in 1998 that devastated a number of small communities.
Today, we visit the people who have chosen to return to the area, to the land they own, to make a life. A memorial has been erected to recognize the 2,000 lives that were lost, and while the land no longer shows obvious evidence of the slide, rolled up shirtsleeves and lifted skirt hems reveal the scars of the survivors.
The site of our meeting is remote. Our truck is the only vehicle in site, and I suspect, the only vehicle the road has seen in some time. The small crowd, representing members from 45 subsistence farming families in the area, has arrived by horseback, wagon, bicycle, and on foot.
We gather around what appears simply as a block of concrete with a hole in the middle. A well. A well shaft anyways. From which any means to extract any water that may (or may not be) at the bottom, is evidently lacking, and has been for years.
Although collecting water is traditionally women’s work, here it is primarily the men who take on the task. The route to the nearest well, 4 km away, is dangerous and must be navigated before sunrise in order to return in time with the water required to start the day. And this is just the first trip of many.
Please support the Nicaragua Water Project so that water can reach this community, and many others, currently going without adequate, clean, safe, life-giving water!