The aim of this project was to supply the village of Tiactac with fresh potable water. Although originally detailed as using fog-nets to create the water supply, in a village trial this method did not work. FogQuest, the local partner, then worked with them to source spring water from a site 4 km from the village. The water was piped to a holding tank and then to the 70 individual households – each receiving a separate standpipe.
The task of the RoundSquare Schools group was to help with the construction of the water tank, dig trenches (approx 50 cm deep) from the tank to all the households of the village – a huge task as some of the homes were 3-4 km distant from the tank!
Before this project, the water supply to the village was from roof collectors into large domestic polythene tanks. This water often became stale and infected with bacteria and insect larvae during the time it remained in the tanks and whilst it is suitable for washing it needs boiling before drinking. The spring provides a year round supply of fresh clean water (whilst we were there a team of water quality specialists from the University of West Virginia, Charlottesville, tested the spring water and found no pathogenic bacteria – i.e. it is safe to drink without further treatment). Furthermore the dry season extends from March to May and during these 3 months there is rarely any precipitation, thus this new system of pipes and holding tank should ensure a year round supply of water.
- The terrain was varied but it was generally steep, sometimes rocky with fallen trees and ever-present tree roots to overcome. The tools used were picks, hoes and shovels. Most students found this work arduous.
- Language posed a small barrier - A relatively small number of the villagers spoke a good standard of Spanish (most speak Chuj) and it was difficult to plan the next day’s schedules well.
- Weather – despite August being the "driest of the rainy season" this proved not to be the case with considerable amounts of rain falling during our stay. We lost two complete work days to incessant rain.
The project was successfully completed 3 days ahead of schedule and most houses in Tiactac are now supplied with clear, clean running water – a tremendous boon for the inhabitants.
“In the village of Tiactac amongst the lolling hills of Guatemala’s highland pine forest, 80 families who have always managed to thrive on collected rainwater and supplemented by distant springs are now adjusting to the rhythm of life with running water!
True respect for other traditions is imperative to real success in a project such as this. It is commonly known in Mayan religion that life giving water spring is feminine. The village has a masculine energy. It was imperative - to ensure that the spring did not dry up in protest - to properly marry the complementary masculine and feminine. The Yinhatil Nab’en students carried their double marimba (the first songs of marimba were given to the Mayans by the spirit of the water) up the mountain on their backs and played all morning long while the unmarried girls of the village danced upon the tank. Prayers of gratitude were offered to God and an anciana gave voice to the spring through a spirit-inspired song. The girls then led the water and the people five kilometers down the mountain and into the village below, where celebration continued.
Forever changed, the lives of the women and people of Tiactac no longer include strict rationing the rainwater to feed their families and keep them clean. Truly, this was the result of multiple people saying “yes” to the possibilities and putting in the time and energy to making it work”
By Ellen Rim, Round Square student, The Hotchkiss School
(Report Posted: 6 Feb, 2008)
This project aims to build a new clean water supply for a rural village of 300 in the municipality of San Mateo Ixtatan. This will be achieved through construction of a fog-catching net which will capture rain droplets in order to provide a fresh water drinking supply (they will continue to walk to the riverside to collect water for washing and other needs.
The project will work in partnership with FogQuest, which will provide the expertise to build capture fog nets.
What this project covers:
- Provision and supply of building materials for the capture fog nets including pipes, tubes, connectors, cement, wiring and tools.
All other expenses (transportation, accommodation, alimentation for project participants are being covered by Round Square)
- To empower a community by helping them create their own fresh water supply
- To create a sustainable health benefit to a village of 300 people
- For the project participants (teenagers from RoundSquare's member schools) who provide the labour to build the fog-nets, the outcomes are to give of ourselves and challenge ourselves physically, emotionally, culturally, spiritually, and thereby learn about others, ourselves, our partners, the Guatemalan culture, and issues of third-world development
Why is this project required?
Guatemala has over 75% of its people living below the poverty line. Those that live in remote mountainous regions are isolated and neglected. Widespread political violence and corruption remain barriers to progress. Those living in remote villages need assistance with basic health and living requirements. The village of Tiactac has no water supply other than the annual collection of rainwater during the rainy season from roofs, which is stored in silos. By the end of the year, before the next rains, this water is likely to have become polluted by bird and bat droppings and requires boiling before drinking.
Local partnerships in Guatemala
Round Square is partnering with FogQuest as well as the local community of Tiactac. FogQuest (est.2000) is an innovative not-for-profit that utilizes fog, rain and dew as sustainable water resources for people in arid regions of developing countries. We are utilizing FogQuest’s expertise and technology in constructing and erecting nets.
It is Round Square’s policy that every international service project involve the local community during the project, as well as after the project workers have left. In this way locals ensure that the project respects local ways and customs, locals are contributing to the betterment of their own community and locals learn skills and ways to ensure future prosperity of their people.
About project partner, RoundSquare
Round Square is a worldwide community of 60 like-minded schools spread over five continents, which share a commitment, beyond academic excellence, to personal development and responsibility.
Round Square assumes that each teenager innately needs to discover the world beyond and within him or herself. To this end we provide opportunities for young people to explore first hand beyond the familiar “comfort zone” and the world that they already know, to find evidence that they can indeed be valuable and effective people. It is through international service projects such as this one where young people are treated as human beings upon whom a community, a society, and a world will depend. The end goal is to guide young people to see themselves as a person who is needed, and one who can make a difference in the world.
It is our hope that we will influence a generation to become com-passionate leaders who will change our world for the better.
Round Square in a registered charity, # 327117.