Reynaldo Montoya Vílchez, a man with lively eyes and robust stature, has persevered through many trials over his 71 years of living in the community of Matilde. He explains how difficult things have been without access to clean water, and the only water they could find was far from where they lived. “I would dedicate more than five hours every day just to retrieve water,” he tells us. On top of that, he also had to care for his grandparents, prepare food, tend to his family’s crops, and collect wood for the fire to cook their food.
Tired from the many years of work, Reynaldo is eager for the next phase of his life. Don Reynaldo says, “I never thought that this would happen in my lifetime! It is a dream. I just imagine turning on my water and watching it flow out. I can’t stop thinking about it. I think I’m going to have to keep running my hands under the water to actually believe that it is real.” He mimes it with his hands, and a wide smile reaches up to his eyes.
No access to clean water in his home has caused an arduous and unfortunate loss of time in his life. Long walks across many kilometers took away his opportunity to receive an education, to invest time in strengthening family bonds or even simply resting to regain energy. He has spent days, months, and years constantly thinking about what he could drink to quench his thirst, continually having to debate whether to use some water to bathe or just painfully ignore how dirty he was.
“I give thanks to Amigos For Christ because not only are they helping us with the water system, but they are also helping to improve the overall well-being of our community. We have been able to increase our income with the animals they have provided, and now the water will play a huge role in sustaining us,” explained this man. He tells us that up until now, they have always had to get by with just a barrel of water that lasts less time than the whole process of retrieving it.
Days, months, and years of watching their loved ones suffer due to poor conditions in their homes.
His children have to get up at four o’clock each morning to go fetch the water from the well so that they could make it back in time to leave for school at seven. His wife explains that the entire family had to take turns refilling the water jugs.
While we were talking to Reynaldo, other men from the community passed by on their way to work. They were off to continue breaking through the rocky ground to lay down the water pipes for their new water system. We noticed Doña Candida, sitting next to her husband in their home. She told us, “A child who doesn’t drink enough water – or drinks water that is dirty and low quality – performs poorly in many areas. Even more so, if they are responsible for retrieving the water! We have experienced many difficult times, though everything has always turned out well. As grandparents, we want a different life for our family as it continues to grow.”
One Less Worry
With tears in his eyes Reynaldo says, “With this project, things will be better because we will have one less worry in our household. We give thanks to God and we ask Him to pour blessings into the lives of each and every person who has helped make this work possible.” Each word exudes joy as it passes through his lips.
As the sun shines with its brilliant rays among the ditches and dirt, Reynaldo Vílchez, accompanied by his grandson, Jairo, look upon the workers in the ditches. Jairo is responsible for walking the far distance to retrieve water for his grandparents and family so they don’t have to go without it.
Now, Reynaldo and Candida, faces worn with wrinkles, reflect pure joy and eagerness to witness the incredible change their families will soon experience. Their brown eyes reflect what they have lived. They show the delight of knowing that potable water will soon reach their homes, and they reveal that unimaginable dreams are capable of becoming reality.