After years of working on Project Milagro, Marina is closer than ever to getting water in her home. You can help families like Marina with as little as $25! Watch Marina's video to see how she lives.
During the six-month dry season, Ruth, a teacher at the Nutrition Center in Las Delicias, El Salvador (one of five schools that will benefit from Project Milagro), thanks God for the day when “the first drops of rain fall”. This is because the Center doesn’t have running water.
When you first meet Francisco Gonzalez, or “Paco” as he is known to his friends, his peaceful demeanor reveals much about him. Like so many members of the ENLACE staff, Paco is extremely talented and well-qualified; He has Master Degrees in Agronomy as well as Integrated Water Resources Management. But if you've ever met Paco, it would come as no surprise that he regards his relationship with God as his most important asset for his work with ENLACE, accompanying local churches that desire to transform their communities.
“ENLACE motivates churches to love and help their neighbors through projects that transform their communities," says Paco in a recent interview.
Growing up in San Salvador, Paco had no interest in God. Upon attending a Christian high school, however, his world changed. He says that it was through the example of his teachers and classmates that he came to experience God’s love and recognized his need for God in his life.
Coming to Christ opened doors and many new friendships to Paco. One such door was opened when he met David Bueno in 1996. David was looking for an agronomist who could oversee passion fruit production at ENLACE’s farm. Paco turned out to be the right person for the job. Since then, Paco has served in many roles with ENLACE including credit officer, agronomist and now helping to oversee multiple water projects including Project Milagro.
Speaking of the variety of work he has performed with ENLACE he says with his signature ear-to-ear grin, “Everything I've done has been interesting.”
The past 20 years have been a real blessing for Paco who has found support and love in the good times and hard times within ENLACE’s tight-knit staff. He says that the most memorable support that he received was during one of the hardest times in his life: when his twin brother, Felipe Eduardo, passed away. Paco was in Germany pursuing one of his masters degrees, and in spite of the distance he felt ENLACE’s sustaining encouragement. “I could feel the support that I needed even though I was far away. It showed me that they really cared about me and it gave me the courage and strength to continue my studies in Germany.”
“There is no doubt my life has been impacted by working with ENLACE,” declares Paco. “Besides teaching others how to bless their community, I also get involved in different community activities right where I live. I plant trees; I help neighborhood clean-up campaigns and anything I can do to get involved. When I become part of what they care about and help them with their needs I demonstrate God’s love for my neighbors.”
Even though Martha was very skeptical that clean and affordable water would ever be a possibility for her and her neighbors, she now marvels at all that has been done to build a water system that will serve 10,000 people. Without water, life is hard "especially for older women who can't go [to the river to collect water] because the paths are in bad condition," says Martha. "When the project is finished, it will be a blessing because we will have water in our homes."
Just $175 provides one family with water. $25 gives one person water for generations to come!
Ana Lourdes is one of the community members in Las Delicias that will benefit from the Project Milagro water system. During the dry season she spends much of her meager income buying water from water trucks, which often isn’t clean. “Having clean water at home will be beneficial to me and my family,” said Ana Lourdes, “because we won’t get sick.”
Just $175 provides one family with water for generations to come! $25 provides one person with water!
Clean and affordable water for Catalina, a resident of Las Delicias, El Salvador, is a luxury she hopes to have one day. "Sometimes we don't have enough water to wash our faces and...we suffer from thirst," says Catalina. "During the dry season most people walk long distances [to get water]." Even so, Catalina has faith that through Project Milagro, one day she and her neighbors will have clean water in their own homes. Donate now and be a part of a miracle!
It's about 5:30 in the morning, and Marina is already up. Since she has no running water in her house, Marina will walk about a kilometer to a river to bathe. For you and me, walking through the morning chill to a cold shower in a river sounds uninviting, but this is only part of the hardship that Marina will face this morning. Marina will carry her 20-year-old son to the river, as well. Osmán has a mental handicap that also affects his limbs, making the trek down the mountain extremely difficult.
Marina will be one of the first to receive clean, running water after the completion of the next phase of Project Milagro; but she has been involved longer than most. She began volunteering over five years ago and now, at 64 years old, continues to haul bricks and dig trenches alongside the men of the community. Miguel Durán, president of the local water board and pastor of the Bueno Samaritano Church, says he's lost count of how many times Marina has shown up to a work site to help out.
In an interview that took place seven years ago, Marina told ENLACE, “I will be really happy when we get water; things will be better.” It was the hope of having clean water for herself and her son that motivated her to work so tirelessly. And if you can believe it, her hope hasn't waned. She continues still to hope and to work...and to walk to the river every morning.
With just a $175 donation, an entire family like Marina's will have water in their homes. With just $25, one person--like Marina and Osmán--will have clean and affordable water available directly in the home.
In a brief documentary by Rose Anderson called "Chronic Neglect: The Water Crisis in El Salvador," found on hub.witness.org, she notes that,
While there is no shortage of water in El Salvador, almost 60% of the rural population has no access to a reliable water source, forcing women and girls to walk long distances and pay high prices to obtain water of dubious quality. In cities, water is almost never lacking in wealthy neighborhoods where pools are common, while in poor areas where water is available only a few hours a day or during the night, the price can reach 10% of a household's income.
The communities where ENLACE works are certainly not immune to these problems. In communities like Las Delicias on average residents pay 30% of their income to buy dirty water from water trucks during the six-month dry season. However, great strides are being made to bring clean water to three poor communities.
Just $175 will bring water to one household for generations to come. Donate now to Project Milagro and be part of the miracle for 10,000 people!
A well-worn, red pickup rumbles through a hairpin turn just outside the northern city limits of Soyapango, El Salvador. This sharp bend in the road doesn't raise much alarm because it's a small issue compared to the real danger. The biggest problem for this Toyota Hilux would be a landslide.
Nonetheless, the pickup is moving quickly through the turn; the driver is running late. Running late isn't unusual for Paco Gonzalez, ENLACE engineer in charge of Project Milagro. Paco's plate today, like most days, is quite full. Even so, working for a project that will provide accesible, clean water to thousands of residents in rural El Salvador is more than worth the effort.
After attending two meetings already, Paco is now off to a consultation with a group of engineers from the United States. Engineers Without Borders, an NGO based in Boulder, CO, is involved with projects in over 45 developing countries around the world. Five of its 12,000-plus members are working with ENLACE on a holding tank a few kilometers above the well site of this project. A week or two ago, the tank site (Rebombeo #2) was a collection of scrub brush and sink holes along the side of a mountain between Las Delicias and Las Animas. As of today, the ground is being excavated and compacted in order to host the 60 square meter water tank for Rebombeo #2.
These rebombeos are one of the protective measures planned into Project Milagro. Because of thegeographic size of the project, engineers decided that several inline pumps would be more effective than several megalithic pumps at the well site. The purpose of these rebombeo tanks is to maintain water levels in case power is lost.
Loss of power happens quite frequently in El Salvador's rainy season. And if the pumps are left running without any water in the pipeline, they can burn out. Enter the rebombeo tanks. They hold enough water to buy some time if power is lost at a station below one of the inline pumps.
If all goes well with Engineers Without Borders, Paco, along with local volunteers, will finish this tank within a few weeks. Then, back into the red diesel Toyota for Paco, and off to more meetings about the next steps and future phases of the project.
Over the last year, Project Milagro has certainly lived up to its name: Project Miracle. By God’s grace, we have seen many barriers fall, barriers that for decades have stopped the people of Las Delicias from gaining access to clean water.
In 2008, ADSA, the local water board, was elected and legalized thus providing project oversight and cohesion to future progress as well as transparency to spending and planning.
The Assemblies of God Women’s Ministries of Southern California chose Project Milagro as its 2009 Project Hope. We are extremely grateful for their partnership. see video
After seeing the momentum building in the Las Delicias communities as they dug their own wells, excavated a one-mile ditch, and rallied around each other through various setbacks, ANDA, the national ministry of water, agreed to donate the distribution piping that will carry water to residents’ homes.
ADSA Shines in 2009
ADSA continues to show excellent leadership by spearheading petitions campaigns, which provide legal permission to excavate certain roads and other sections of private property for piping. Legal face-offs can be potentially disruptive, and the diplomacy efforts of ADSA in these matters has made a huge difference to the project's success.
Pumps and Infrastructure
As ADSA worked with local residents to get permission to construct the redistribution tank something incredible happened. A local woman was so enthusiastic about the project she decided to donate the property needed for the tank. While this is incredible, such donations of land and volunteer labor has actually been the norm for Project Miracle.
Regarding construction, it is steadily moving forward. More sixty-six percent of the electrical infrastructure is in place and we are waiting for the industrial pumps to be installed. Two of the six pumps have been purchased ($25,000 each). Transformers, circuit breakers, power lines and poles ($18,000 worth of equipment) are now at the well site ready to be installed. Once the pumps are in place, water will be pumped up the mountain at 432,000 gallons per day. From there the water goes to a redistribution station that has also been completed.
Building Relationships with Local Government Officials
Miguel Durán (a local pastor and president of ADSA) had been working with the San Martin mayor’s office for years. After recent elections in March 2009, a new administration was installed. Pastor Miguel was emotionally prepared to start over from scratch. After months of trying to connect with the new administration, Miquel was able to establish a relationship with the new mayor.He even invited the mayor to his house for a traditional Salvadoran meal of pupusas (tortillas stuffed with beans andADSA draft a grant proposal to ANDA cheese), Pastor Miguel shared about the experience the he and the community had been through trying to get water. From that time of fellowship and from that conversation the mayor decided to waive the road re-construction fees which would normally amount to $20,000. Additionally, the mayor has begun to seek further funding for the project from the Spanish and Korean embassies for this project!
Back in 2009, ENLACE helped the Buen Samaritano Church to navigate the legal waters of signing an agreement that would greatly broaden Project Milagro's impact. This was an update written by former volunteer, Peter Desoto, that explained the process and the historic agreement.
As many of you know, ENLACE is the Spanish word for link. And since ENLACE’s approach is not to introduce and implement our own projects, but is to help link churches to their communities, resources and other organizations, it’s an apt description. But when I came into the ENLACE office this morning, I thought of another word that could describe what ENLACE is: An interface. An interface is a connection over which multiple parties can communicate. And at ENLACE we act as a type of interface between churches and communities spearheading projects and entities that can help them make those projects happen.
Today, leaders from the recently legalized water board, called ADSA, were here at the ENLACE office formalizing a proposal for continued government involvement in the project. Specifically, they were requesting the use of specialized machinery that will be used to clean the wells in preparation for pump insertion. This would normally cost about $3000 per day. With God’s blessing, ANDA might provide this service as a donation just as it did earlier this year when it donated more than $130,000 in piping and materials for the first stage of the distribution system.