Updates on our work in Ecuador.
Updates on our work in Ecuador.
In September 2019, during the install week of Galte’s system in Ecuador, Agua Viva had the opportunity to visit the school of San Gerardo. This school was brought to our attention by the Director of the Water Laboratory of San Gerardo’s parent city government.
It’s a community that’s literally close to Mario Ahkras’s home, about 10 minutes by bus from his hometown. This helped us work closely with the School during the preparations of the water room.
After testing the water samples that were shipped out to the United States, San Gerardo was blessed with the chance to receive their own water purification system. A system was installed in April 2021, even as the international travel restrictions (resulting from the pandemic) were peaking.
This was Mario’s first time leading an install, and he anticipated challenges during the installation week. As it turned out, the biggest challenge would in fact be the sheer patience required to get the equipment through customs.
The Water System suitcases wound up being delayed almost two months because of a clerical error made by customs. In short, this added only a handful of extra steps during clearance, but each and every step required more time and approvals!! Unfortunately, every step added several days and even weeks of waiting. And, to add salt to the wound, Agua Viva had to pay a fine. Ouch!
But, it was all SO worthwhile, when we inaugurated the San Gerardo Wate, joined by the political leaders of the community and state, who helped us all along the way. The actual week of the installation went very smoothly because of how well prepared everything was in the crate. And we just had ONE leak….or, maybe two!
Agua Viva was honored to share our vision for water with a group of 5th grade students at Harmony Elementary School in Overland Park who entered the Battle of the Brains Contest. During our discussion and presentation students asked Agua Viva what problems are encountered when installing purification systems in developing countries. After exploring several options, they decided to focus their research on the problem of transporting water from the purification site to a home, school, or kiosk. When a 5 gallon bottle of water weighs 40 pounds, and many communities do not have motorized vehicles to deliver water, the students brainstormed ways to carry heavy bottles of water.
The design prototype they created is a cart that can be pulled by a child, and best of all can be disassembled and packed into a suitcase. The Harmony kids thought of everything!!
Agua Viva plans to use their prototype to build a cart to take to Ecuador in April. Way to go 5th graders. We are so thankful you chose Agua Viva for your project!!
Agua Viva International is a non-profit faith based organization that takes and installs water filtration systems to communities around the world that need clean water. The founders noticed sick kids on a mission trip and commented to a doctor “they need more doctors down there!” And the doctor commented- “what they really need is clean water so they don’t get sick”…so began this local organization about 15 years ago…
Brian & I joined their recent trip to a remote school in Guote, Ecuador named Atahualpa. This school has around 400 children 1st-12th grade. Some kids walk up to 15km (an hour and a half!) ONE way to school. Spanish is their second language- the indigenous language called Cetchzwa is the language they speak at home. The school includes a school of husbandry, teaching them how to raise rabbits, guinea pigs and also an extensive garden. Their curriculum includes how to raise different types of vegetables; available for the community with the goal to increase the variety of vegetables they grow/eat.
There were two teams on this trip- an education team and an installation team. Brian helped with the installation. This group has to be innovative and flexible- as each community provides it’s own complex situation for it’s water source. When the installation is complete, Agua Viva GIVES the system to the community to do with as they need.
I was on the education team. It is a comprehensive curriculum that weaves biblical truths with principals about the parasites/viruses present in water that can make you sick, how germs are spread, and the uses of this purified water they were getting. We taught 6 teachers from the school, who in turn takes the curriculum and teaches it to their students; with the hope the students will in turn take this information to their parents. The school decided they wanted to in turn take this curriculum and educate 14 more schools around them locally!
Some of the things the students were shocked about? That there is a living world beyond what our eyes can see. That it’s not a good practice to have pigs & chickens running around in your your house where you eat and sleep; and how easy it is to spread germs.
The last day is usually a day of celebration and blessing of the installation of the water filtration system. This was so lovely! The community comes and celebrates with us. The pastor of the community came to speak- it was humbling he asked God would bless us in return- which I felt we received by guarding our lives the very next day!
Take time to watch the videos they are really fun to watch!
Brian & I feel very blessed by the friendships we made and being around such hardworking faithful people that made this all happen.
Curt Mader, CEO of non-profit Agua Viva International, will be the proud recipient of the Buck O’Neal Legacy Seat when the Kansas City Royals play the Boston
Red Sox at 7:15 pm, on June 19, 2017. Please watch us on TV! Or, better yet, come to the Royals Stadium and watch us on the big screen! Curt Mader and Agua Viva International have installed 15 water purification systems in poor indigenous communities of Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador, and Tanzania, Africa. Each system serves a community of about 2,000 people. More than three million people die each year from water related illnesses and nearly one billion people in our world have no access to clean drinking water. Agua Viva also brings health and hygiene education and dental serves to these communities touching the lives of thousands. Curt Mader, in addition to his full time employment at Olsson and Associates, has worked tirelessly to build this Kansas City based humanitarian organization from scratch to lift up and embrace the needy people of our thirsty world.
For more information about the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat click here:http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/kc/community/buck-oneil-seat/
Agua Viva arrived in Flores to find our water purification system fully operative and our new operating partners doing fantastic. This was especially satisfying to our team considering how this all came about.
You see, this was NOT the first home for this system. Not everything goes exactly according to plan.
In 2013, Agua Viva installed this Standard Board purification system in a community called Gompuene, Ecuador. The system served a small community of about 800 people where a landslide at wiped out their only source of water. However, about one week after the system was installed, there was a large up-rising of the surrounding communities. Why does Gompuene get a water purification system and we DON’T??? How can you take OUR water and sell it back to us??? Days later, the system was taken out and abandoned at the home of Maritza Yanez. This was a huge surprise to us! Especially after we had negotiated and signed a covenant with the communities and especially after having a huge party celebrating their brand new system. But, none the less, after threats and complaints, the system was removed. One might ask, “Why would God do this?”.
Then, the rest of the story began to unfold.
Agua Viva immediately started planning an emergency trip. A team of Agua Viva volunteers and Maritza Yanez, went to the communities and began a period of negotiations and water diplomacy. After a few weeks, it was decided. Agua Viva will be permitted to return and install the Gompuene System…. in Flores. There (in Flores) the water system will be installed in a school of 500 children in a centralized point serving 2,800 people in the middle of all of the communities… on neutral ground. Agua Viva returned six months later and installed the “orphaned system” in Flores, where it resides today.
Now the system is serving a much large community and in a “child centered” place providing much greater benefit. And, several of the surrounding communities have apologized and expressed their gratitude that Agua Viva would patiently “stay the course” for the benefit of the children, the communities, and all of the people of Chimborazo… the poorest state in Ecuador.
And, that is the whole story!
No matter how hard we try, we always need something we didn’t bring. The big surprise on this trip (so far) was Flores. Everything looked great, but when Dale and Jerry inspected the Ozonator, only two of the four bulbs were energized. “Wow, never seen two burned out Ozone Bulbs before!” After some expert troubleshooting we discovered that it wasn’t the bulbs at all but we had a defective ballast transformer. We have never carried spare ballasts before, and we certainly could not buy one of these in the high sierra of Ecuador. Well, just another lesson learned.
Then, at Jipongato, our Operator Moises, said when we arrived, “Did my friends bring us some water-based O-ring lubricant?” Oooops! We have never carried water-based lubricant jelly before. How does an indigenous mountain-man know what a “water based O-ring lubricant” is??? After a lengthy “Bull Pen” session, we came up with a plan. Oh, why didn’t we pack some “water based O-ring lubricant”?
At Promesa Divina, our operator Jonathon Guaman, asked, “Why is water backing up into my Ozonator?”. After a quick look, we noticed that this installation by Agua Viva pre-dated the addition of a manual shutoff valves in the Ozonator tubing which prevents this phenomenon.
Well, it is always something. When we return to the United States we will have some work to do to get all of these parts to our friends in Ecuador. There is no doubt Agua Viva is a work-in-progress. We are always humbled by this simple truth. In a third world country we must not strive for perfection.
However, great successes can be had outside of a perfect world. If you don’t believe it, just follow us around for a while.
On this trip to Ecuador we have assembled quite a team. Our teams of volunteers almost always consist of several divine appointments.
To begin, we have three volunteers from the United States. Nobody is paid… straight up volunteers. Many of us gave up vacation time… We all gave up family time.
But, that is only the tip of the iceberg. Our team also included Mario Mejia from Quetzaltengo, Guatemala. Mario is an excellent translator but he is much more than that. Mario knows our purification system inside and out. He also understands the rest of the program: Health and Hygiene Education, Covenants, Micro-Economy strategies, and (most importantly) water diplomacy. And, he speaks very fluent English and Spanish.
Our team also included two Quechue indigenous (and ingenious) young ladies Elena Fernandez and Melissa Guaman. These young ladies are fluent in Quechue and understand the “ways” of these isolated and forgotten peoples where Agua Viva focuses much our attention.
Campo Morillo also joined our team. Campo is a mathematics professor and researcher at a University in Puyo. He has travelled with us on many trips and knows how to keep us out of trouble. That is a tall order. He knows where to buy material and he knows the roads!
So altogether we had seven, but that is still only the beginning. What about our constituents back in the United States that make it all possible? What about the preachers, teachers, school principals, system operators, and others who have come before us, like Pastor Truesdale and Don Pablo Poz Pom? Yes, by no less than divine appointment, we have assembled quite a team!
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10, ESV.
Today we completed follow-up trips for all of our Agua Viva Water Sites in central Ecuador. Site after site, we heard and observed first-hand, the same thing from our friends, “The water system is working great. Thank you so much”. Without exception, all our sites were 100% operative, clean, and cranking out water.
Our proudest moment was when two our school projects, Pomachaca and Flores, both with about 500 students, exclaimed that absenteeism had dropped to a new amazing low level, beyond what either of the principals ever thought possible.
Every site asked us to come back more often; not for repairs, but to celebrate a life changing event: improved health, economic gain, new hope, and increased motivation.
That certainly makes it all worth it. It is a lot of work to make it happen on the United States side and it takes a lot of volunteers, but, the payback is enormous. God never said, “It will be easy or comfortable”.
Speaking for our entire team, we wish we could do more installations. We just aren’t doing enough to help our Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus.