Twenty-two years ago, I was privileged to live and serve with Jesuit Volunteers in Tacna, Peru, teaching English and coaching basketball. The small city sits along an arid slope halfway between the Pacific Coast and the Andes Mountains in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest deserts in the world. During my two years, it only rained three times. My students, neighbors, and friends depended on the water that flowed from the high mountains. On several occasions, no water flowed through our faucets. Neighbors would say, “It will start flowing again tomorrow,” or “in a couple of days.” Then, a week went by without water. There was no water to bathe, to wash clothes and dishes, or to clean the house. After a week without water large water trucks began driving through the streets twice weekly. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked for buckets, barrels, and any container available to fill from the water trucks.

I experienced the hardship of collecting water from a truck in Peru for only three weeks, but the same scenario still exists for the Buen Samaritano community in Tegucigalpa, Honduras every day. Change is coming. Later this spring, clean water will flow to 400 homes and 2,000 people in Honduras, thanks to the generosity of many IntSam supporters.

The power of this life-giving gift is incalculable – we have experienced it already in Ethiopia.

Adaam, proud and smiling

Three years ago in Addis Ababa, I witnessed water being trucked into the community and families standing in long lines to fill five-gallon jerry cans at the community’s only low-pressure tap. Children waited hours in line instead of studying.

In 2021, International Samaritan collaborated with community leaders to build two community wells. A community water board now charges a small fee to fill up water jugs or to use the new community shower facilities.

When I returned to the community earlier this year, the change was immediately apparent. Community members now appear healthier, younger, and more energetic because they have easy access to water.

I met a woman, Adaam, a leper and member of the local board who is employed to help maintain the shower and water facilities. She collected 3 Ethiopian Birr to fill each jerry can from a man who had walked his donkey two miles. She was grateful for her work because otherwise she would beg on the streets and scavenge in the garbage dump. Her transformation inspired me. Adaam is proud of her work. This woman now has position, purpose, and dignity.

Does the Fountain of Youth exist? Yes, I have seen it in Ethiopia and it is coming soon to Teguicigalpa, Honduras.  This week we celebrate World Water Day to highlight clean water as a basic human right.

Construction of the Tegucigalpa water tower is nearing the end.
The water project will be done in late April!

Andrew Pawuk, IntSam Vice President

Andrew has been with International Samaritan since 2007 and oversees its programs in five countries.  He graduated from St. John’s Jesuit High School and holds a Master’s degree in International Studies.  He attends St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, is an avid bird watcher, and sings with Measure for Measure men’s chorus.

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