News from the Edge

The Incredible Gift of a Water Tank

Traditional method of collecting water when a water tank isn’t available

What would we do without water? It is necessary for life. Besides hydrating our bodies, it keeps us, our clothes, and our homes clean. We need it for disinfecting our food and for cooking. Without easy access to it, life is a real struggle.

Typically, in a rural Pokomchi village, easy access to sufficient, clean water is very rare. Since 2002, ASOSAP has been working to alleviate this. In 19 years, we have built 334 water tanks. An estimated 2004 people have access to water because of these tanks. Counting the water tanks that we built for schools and health posts in the communities we partner with, this number is even higher.

Having a water tank right outside the home or building is a game changer. Some of these have been built with teams and others only by ASOSAP staff and villagers. Due to COVID, we have not had teams in country this year, and we are not sure if we will be able to next year. COVID has changed everyone’s normal. We want to continue working alongside Pokomchí families, providing water tanks, but we have to do it differently.

To meet this challenge, we have come up with a plan for 2021!

A previous team member said it well:

“I think everyone needs a change in perspective. It made me really grateful for the things I take for granted in my daily life. Take some time out of your life and do some research on what’s going on in the world. Donate your time or money if you can.  

We would love to have you and your team here working with us, but right now that’s not possible. The in-person connection that happens between teams and villagers is amazing. We will all miss this.

So here is our plan:

 We have the physical ability to build the water tanks, but are lacking the funds. Each water tank costs $763 (US$) and provides a family with the capacity to collect over 4000 liters of rainwater. In 5 days a tank can be built. In a short time frame, the family will have better health outcomes and improved quality of life. The donations you send will go towards providing water tanks for families in our two new communities, San Lucas and Pansimaj. We have a total of 35 families waiting for their own water tank. The good news is that there is still a way for you to connect with your tank family. Instead of meeting in person, you can meet virtually. When the water tank that you donated to is built, we will send you information about the family and photos/video of the family. They would enjoy hearing from you too. If you would like to send us photos and/or videos of yourself and your family, we will show them to the Pokomchi families.

Want to know more? Let’s take a closer look at how ASOSAP started building rainwater collection tanks, the current water access situation in San Lucas and Pansimaj, and the impact the water tanks make.

When ASOSAP was in its beginning years, Bill and Linda saw repeatedly how water access was a concern. They saw the women struggling to provide water to their families, taking multiple difficult trips to collect water from streams, small containers balanced on their heads. Then one day, everything came together. While visiting the home of Nurse Alicia’s father, Bill saw an old water tank in use. The design was perfect and a way to meet this need was born. 

The need for easily accessible water is very real and urgent in San Lucas and Pansimaj. The families in San Lucas have to walk an hour in the mountains, each way, to collect water from a well. The other option is collecting rainwater using buckets or barrels, whatever they have available. In dry season, this is even more difficult.

In Pansimaj, 80% of the community does not have appropriate access to water. The water source is two natural springs. This water is not clean. One is used for drinking/cooking water, and the other for cleaning/ washing clothes. In dry season, when water is scarcer, neighboring communities who have run out of water, use Pansimaj’s water as well. This means 6 communities with a total population of 2300 are using these two springs.

If you didn’t see January’s newsletter or want a refresher on it, the partnership with these two communities and pictures of Pansimaj’s water access is shown. Click below to see it.  

Partnerships with New Communities: Promoting Action and Change

We can all imagine the great impact that a water tank makes in a person’s life, but what have some recipients of this gift said? Below are some testimonies from them:

“I have hypertension, a disease that drastically changed my life. I felt like I was about to die, but God sent ASOSAP to my village. I’m very thankful for this. As a member of ASOSAP’s Chronic Patient Program, I have hope to keep on living.

Before ASOSAP built me a water tank, it was very difficult to get water. In order to have water to drink, cook, or wash with, I had to walk 2 hours through the mountains, one way. I could only carry a small container of water on my head each time. There were moments on the trail when my heart started pounding and I felt pressure in my chest. I would have to stop and rest. This made the trip much longer.

Now I don’t have to walk to get water and my heart no longer has to strain and work so hard. I thank God that He sent people and the funds to build my own water tank. Now I know that God does miracles and gives us the desires of our heart. He does this through people who love their neighbor, even though they are from a different country and culture.”

I ask God to continue blessing the international donors who support us with our needs. This is how I’ve seen God work: God blesses them and then He blesses us with education and projects. We’re not able to build something similar or repay them. As God knows our needs, He provided for us through these projects.”

Each of the 150 blocks that make up a water tank are lovingly prepared and placed

Below, ASOSAP staff: Alvaro and Sebastian, who currently build the water tanks, share how they feel about building water tanks and also the reactions of the people receiving the project. 

“I am very happy to serve my people through building water tanks as I have seen how they suffer. How they must walk long distances for water. It is very satisfying to complete a water tank, knowing that they will never have to do that anymore. Families are very happy to see the water tank right there by their home. They look out the door and see a full tank of water. They don’t have to worry about water access anymore. After years of suffering, they are excited to see even just a small piece of the water tank, such as the cement base. They comment, oh how beautiful! When it is completed they are full of emotion and cry. They are tears of happiness and relief… finally, I won’t have to struggle for water!” Alvaro

I feel good being a part of the water tank project. Before people had to go far away for water, now it is close to their home. Families are very thankful. It is a blessing that God has given them. We are looking for funds so that we can help them, instead of them having to search for water. We wish you could be here, but right now we can do the work for the families on your behalf.” Sebastian

Would you partner with us in providing water access to Pokomchí families?

As you are able, any donation you make will go towards providing a water tank for a family. We look forward to sharing with you about the tank your donation has helped build and to help you develop a connection with the family despite the physical distance.

We do not know what 2021 will bring, but we can envision a year of continuing to work together and meeting the needs of the Pokomchí as God sees fit.