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Kootenai Valley Rotary brings safe water to Guatemala

by The Western News
| April 11, 2023 7:00 AM

2.2 billion people in the world are affected by lack of access to clean water.

Without water, villagers have more health problems, economic insecurity and lack of educational opportunities.

The Rotary Club of Kootenai Valley has tackled the job of getting water to people who do not have any.

So far seven villages in Guatemala have water because of the work they have undertaken.

On a recent trip to Guatemala the representatives of the Rotary club met with several groups who are working to bring water to their own people.

George and Linda Gerard and Eileen Carne from Libby and Sandy Carlson and Lucy Smith from the Kalispell club were on the trip.

They visited the latest water project at La Vega. A well has been dug and a storage tower built.

Because so much of the work was done by the people living there themselves, there was enough money left over to bring water to people’s homes.

Therefore, 305 families will be able to turn on a faucet and have water come out at home.

Because so many of the projects involve villages near rivers, their access to water is to walk to the river, often down in a ravine, carry the water back to their home.

It is usually contaminated by the many places it has passed through before getting to the village.

Sadly, it is the young girls in the family whose job it is to make several trips a day to the river to bring enough water for the family. This means they can’t attend school. Bringing water to the village is not only good for the health of the family, but it also frees up the young girls so they can be educated and maybe have a better life.

Besides water projects, on this visit, the Rotary members visited schools where their help had built new classrooms.

In one school, before this project was undertaken, the students had met outside in the walk way in front of other classes. This would make it difficult for the students to concentrate without distraction.

In one village, there was an old school that needed to be rebuilt. The villagers all contributed enough money to redo the roof and the Rotarians rebuilt the walls.

The Rotary Club started these projects in 2008 and has completed seven projects – one every two or three years. Since it takes a great deal of time to gather the money, make plans and get the materials together, this is a remarkable achievement.

The clubs are planning to continue as long as there is a need – which means a long time into the future.