The Marquette Breakfast Rotary Club, partnering financially with clubs in Rotary Districts 4250 and 6270, is serving as an international sponsor to provide a basic water system to El Tesoro in the Highlands of Guatemala. El Tesoro is a community located 1 hour north of the municipality of San Martín Jilotepeque, Department of Chimaltenango. The altitude is 1491 meters above sea level, making for a temperate climate. The main economic activity is agriculture; they grow coffee, corn and beans only for their consumption and the coffee to sell. At least 20 families have migrated to the United States, because of persistent water shortages and indicate they may return as soon as the project is finished.
Working closely with Engineers without Borders USA—Guatemala (a major partner with extensive experience in Guatemala managing Rotary International-sponsored humanitarian projects), the community asked Rotarians to fund the capping of the spring, build a conduction line, and install a distribution tank and system with taps to the more than fifty households in El Tesoro. If the project was funded, the community agreed to provide unskilled labor, food, and accommodation for external workers, subsidize the installation of in-home taps, and levy a monthly fee for the water service thereby having funds for the maintenance and sustainability of a system designed by the Marquette University Chapter of Engineers without Borders (a truly impressive group of students!).
As you might suspect, a Global Grants project of this nature requires significant resources to pull it off. To obtain the more than $88,000 needed to create a durable water system several parties worked together to raise funds including RI Districts 4250, 6220, and 6270; the Vista Hermosa, Marquette Breakfast, and Appleton Rotary Clubs; and an anonymous Central American benefactor. Those partially-matching funds secured, the World Fund of Rotary International greenlighted the project in late 2021 and the project commenced. Despite a few setbacks, such as a weather-related destruction of a key bridge to access the project, work on capping the spring, installing conduction lines to El Tesoro, building a holding tank, and distributing water to the widely dispersed homes continued apace. Now, we are in “the final mile” of this project with a target completion date of May 2023.
In February of 2023, two groups of Rotarians from Districts 6220, 6250, and 6270 traveled to Guatemala to visit the El Tesoro project as well as other completed, ongoing, and anticipated WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) projects. There is an immense need in that country and Rotary International is in it for the long-haul. In fact, we will be sending another contingent down there next year….join us!!
It is said that water is life, and the quality of water determines the quality of life. Such truly is a “treasure!” As we who typically take fresh water for granted in our part of the country just as others around this distracted globe thirst, please continue to Imagine Rotary and all the good we may do in the world by banding together
For more information, contact: Jim Cantrill, District 6220 International Service Chair