Ecuador (MNN/HCJB) — More than 86 families in an isolated community high in the Ecuadorian Andes are enjoying a constant supply of clean water at their homes for the first time, thanks to the work of local villagers and HCJB Global Hands team members.
Residents of Castug Tungurahuilla are delighted that they no longer have to haul water in bulky containers up steep mountainsides from a solitary well. In addition, water from this undependable, hand-pumped well wasn't safe as it drew from an unprotected water source.
The project was a joint effort of local believers and HCJB Global Hands' clean water projects team, including Ecuadorian engineer Roberto Guapi whose hometown is Castug Tungurahuilla. Local Quichua Indians did most of the work, spending nearly a year to install the well and distribution system in the community near Mount Chimborazo some four hours from Quito.
These hard-working Quichua Indians–descendants of the Incas who controlled much of Ecuador from the mid-1400s until the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors–dug pipe trenches extending more than six miles and built numerous reservoirs. After digging the well, the people of the small community laid the pipe and covered it, then installed metered spigots on a concrete pedestal at each home.
Engineers from the mission designed the system and reviewed progress on the project, which received funding from a Michigan-based foundation, Safe Water in Ecuador. Volunteers from Bethany Baptist Church in Peoria, Illinois, also helped with the project.
Every year more than 55,000 Ecuadorians die due to intestinal parasite infections. In the country's rural areas, fewer than half of residents have water piped to their homes. Even so, most of those rural water systems (some 87%) provide only low-quality water intermittently.
Studies in Ecuador indicate that just 13% of the country's rural water systems are considered to be in good condition and sustaining. The June 29 inauguration of the Castug Tungurahuilla project added one more system that offers life, not illness or even death.
Almost 90% of all infectious disease is water transmitted. More than 90% of these deaths could have been prevented if the victims had had a convenient supply of clean water, adequate sanitation, and better hygiene.
"Each project is a journey of faith in which all of us learn to trust the Lord for guidance," said Bruce Rydbeck, who directs clean water projects. "Not surprisingly, Christians have been strengthened in their faith [as a result of the water projects], many have come to Christ, and some churches have started the process of building a water system."
Each year HCJB Global Hands responds to about six rural communities that have requested help with water systems. Many requests come from remote jungle communities only accessible by canoe or single-engine plane. In the past 20 years, more than 100 communities in Ecuador have received such help.
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