This is Jason and Justin. We wanted to share our thoughts with you about today’s activities and our partnership in Guatemala!
Westminster Presbyterian Church has always had a vested interested in mission work in Guatemala. It was not until recently that Westminster established strategic partnerships with the Association of Mam Christian Women for Development and The Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America (CEDEPCA) to create lasting change in communities for years to come.
In September 2013, mission efforts in Guatemala, as we know of them today, started to take form. Upon the realization that Westminster could provide funds for water filters for families in the Association, they decided to do just that. Westminster set out to provide each family in the association with a water filter, which is approximately 500 filters. Simply put, for every $100 raised, WPC can provide one water filter. The work doesn’t stop there though, each family is required to provide $10 of their own money, so they have some “skin in the game”.
The really encouraging part is that all the materials for the water filters are sourced and manufactured in Guatemala. Providing a purified water source and jobs to local Guatemalans is beyond life-changing and WPC is happy to be one of many to facilitate this process. Almost four years after launching this program, Westminster has raised funds for 450 water filters. WPC has completed over 80% of its goal.
While the water filter project is nearing its end, the work is far from over. Currently, there is another challenge starting for members to donate funds to provide 500 latrines to the same association families. Latrines cost Westminster $360 to fund and families must back $40 dollars of their own funds too. Despite the recent launch of this initiative, 22 latrines have already been funded and the money for those will be arriving later this month!
Again, we want to emphasize the idea that this is a partnership. Allowing these families to have ownership over these projects by contributing financially makes all the difference in the world. It makes them have some “skin in the game” per se as it is not just a handout from Westminster. This partnership is not “a hand down, but rather, a hand up”. As partners, we want to be there in support of the association and its families, but not to the point where it affects their dependency.
The main purpose for our mission trip is to provide families in Guatemala with water filters. These filters can last a lifetime and provide an entire family with purified water. Today we visited a community where we saw the filters being used. We also provide latrines for families that we also saw in the community. Seeing the impact of two things we take so much for granted in our everyday lives made me realize why I should be thankful each day for what I have.
On top of this, I found the positive demeanor of the people we have met to be so inspiring and their faith has made me even more grateful for this opportunity. It was uplifting and inspirational to see how proud the women were of their water filters and latrines. They showed them off and talked about how such a simple thing changes their lives drastically for the better. It is wonderful how these people who have so little are able to find joy and happiness in something so simple. One water filter and one latrine can make all the difference in their lives.