Our Mission

Our mission is to enable and inspire the needy people of developing countries by partnering with their communities to implement water purification and distribution systems.

Watch a video overview of what we do!

While focusing on our mission, Agua Viva International intends to train and equip our partnering communities to install, maintain, and operate Living Waters for the World (LWftW) water purification systems.  Typically, partnering communities have a strong supply of water but it is highly contaminated.  Water supplies are almost always contaminated with bacteria, parasites, and suspended contamination.  The system installation, operation, and maintenance is completely performed by the operating partner.  Our success depends upon the commitment and involvement of the Operating Partner, Agua Viva International, and LWftW.
The health benefits of water purification are well documented by the Global Hunger Index which correlates the importance of purified water and gender empowerment with reduction of World Hunger in underdeveloped nations.

The Agua Viva solution includes:

  • Batch purification of water at 300-500 gallons per day, serving communities up to 2,000 people
  • Bottling the purified water into five gallon bottles
  • Distribution of the bottles and education materials
  • Installation of hand washing and tooth brushing stations
  • Conducting education of young adults
  • Providing opportunities for our volunteers to learn and embrace a world view of compassion and humanitarian objective
  • Dental hygiene and education

Agua Viva works hard to achieve our four Core Objectives:

  1. Development
  2. Education and Gender Empowerment
  3. Volunteerism
  4. Culture

Development:

One of the concerns expressed in the book “When Helping Hurts” explains how mission trips can actually hurt the economy of developing countries.  Agua Viva looked very carefully at our model and we were very pleased to discover that we passed the stringent tests set forth for productive and healthy mission trips.  Each of our installations has set forth a thriving micro-business.  Our new friends are bottling and selling hundreds and thousands of five gallon bottles of pure, clean, tasty water.  This income provides a new economy that is used to purchase food, clothing, and wages to improve the quality of life in these disadvantaged communities.
The Agua Viva model is for developing… not rescue.  As a result, our methods are sustainable.  Our Water Systems allow the communities to “lift themselves up”.  There is no need to wait on the government any longer.  Long after our volunteers return to the United States, our new friends continue making and selling water, educating the community, and offering up new and exciting opportunities for personal and economic growth.

Education and Gender Empowerment:

Pure water without education is not enough.  Clean water is in extremely limited supply and costly.  Agua Viva teaches communities how to conserve drinking water and we teach the four most important uses of purified water:  drinking, brushing teeth, cooking, and infant care.  The education program of Agua Viva teaches these communities very low cost ways to improve their standard of living.  We train the “trainers” who remain in the country long after our volunteers have returned.  These new “trainers” teach the communities and school children simple concepts that go a long ways; e.g. “How germs are spread”, and “Where germs are found”.  You might be surprised yourself!!  Our “trainers” are also dispelling damaging myths and promoting gender empowerment.
Living in the United States, it is easy to take for granted “equal rights for women”.  But in many developing countries, oppression of women is assumed to be the norm and “status quo”.  Oppression against women is extremely damaging to these communities.  For example, if your culture does not permit women to obtain an education, then your children will be raised by an uneducated person.  To combat this “eventuality”, Agua Viva requires one half of all operators and educators to be women.  We encourage our hosts to give women the leadership positions bottling, distributing, educating, and operating the water system.  And, yes, we encourage them to allow women to pray!!  Worldwide women are champions for better health and hygiene, and Agua Viva does everything possible to champion their cause.

Volunteerism:

One unique opportunity provided by Agua Viva is our willingness to take volunteers on our trips.  Very few organizations offer this life changing opportunity.  Time and again Agua Viva sees how these trips “opens the eyes” of our volunteers teaching them a new paradigm of world view and compassion.  This cannot be emphasized enough.  The relationships built during these trips truly change the lives of our volunteers forever.  Agua Viva believes that each trip is two missions; one in our host country and the other in the hearts and minds of each volunteer right here in the United States.

Culture:

Agua Viva is always amazed when we return to our Water Installations to see how our relationships are still strong and loving and how they have actually grown and spread to other communities.  Every installation by Agua Viva requires four trips to the site.  With every visit the relationships grow stronger and more loving.  It is a real surprise to Agua Viva to see how our water sites are actually building community between themselves.  One of the highlights of Agua Viva occurred at Casa Angelina, an orphanage in Chimeltengo.  During our celebration on the final day, Colegio Mark (our very first installation) arrived with the entire marching band to help celebrate our sixth installation.  Agua Viva has also had the opportunity to bring our Guatemalan friends to Ecuador.  It has been a real pleasure watching these warm friendships grow across communities and now across nations.
At the same time we are changing lives, we are trying NOT to change their culture.   Each country Agua Viva visits has amazing differences in culture.  At Agua Viva, we expect this diversity and we have learned to embrace this uniqueness as a thing of beauty.  We are not trying to “Americanize” anyone (although it is very tempting) as this would be a huge mistake.  When it comes to culture, WE are the ones learning and growing.
As we conduct our work, Agua Viva follows a greater calling, referred to as our Guiding Principles.