Beginning in 2015, we began to notice that when we talked to community leaders in the rural areas of San Ramón, the conversation kept going back to one topic: water and sanitation. As one community leader told me, “You can live your whole life without electricity or without going to school, but you can’t go more than three days without potable water.”
While SCSRN still continues to support education through our programs, in accordance with our values of avoiding paternalism, we can’t ignore the dire need for clean water in the rural communities of San Ramón. That’s why this year we are launching a campaign to raise money for a water system in the rural community of San Martín.
In 2015, 86 families received land titles in San Martín, located in the coffee-growing region of San Ramón. These land titles represent a chance for these families to build a home and invest in a piece of property that they can pass down to their children. They represent building a community network of mutual support, putting down roots, and having a sense of permanence and belonging.
There is only one problem- there is no potable water in the community of San Martín. The few families who have settled there have to haul water from far away, often trespassing on private property to obtain drinking water. Other families have simply chosen not to settle, and continue to drift, mainly working as day laborers on large coffee plantations. This lack of permanence means that their children’s education is interrupted, and their day-to-day needs are dependent upon their employers. A functional water system not only means health and hygiene for these families; it means independence, opportunity, and community.
There are lots of reasons not to get involved in water projects. Water projects are complex and expensive. Even before you invest in the infrastructure, you have to form a community water committee; you have to set up a transparent system of meter reading and billing: you have to have a maintenance plan and a local team that is trained and willing to do it; you have to educate the community about all these processes and get everybody on board; it’s by no means easy! That’s why we have an advisory committee comprised of members of other water committees, members of other non-profits, water engineers, and employees of local government institutions, all of whom have many years of experience with these types of projects, and who are dedicated to helping us succeed in San Martín. We’re going to listen to their advice, learn from their past mistakes, and maintain open and constant communication to make sure the families of San Martín have clean water for years to come.
Our goal is to raise $40,000 to build this water system. We have a generous offer from our founders of a matching grant of $20,000. If we succeed in reaching our goal, we will begin construction on the San Martín water system at the beginning of the next dry season, starting January 2022. If you’d like to know more about how you can be a part of this life-giving opportunity, please contact us!