What happens to a community when clean, accessible water arrives for the first time? Most Amigos for Christ staff have witnessed joyful water inaugurations, when running water is initially turned on and the stream of endless possibilities and opportunities flows into the community for the first time. Clean babies, fresh gardens, and a drastic decrease of intestinal parasites are the immediate results of clean, accessible water.
However, the secondary benefits, while more subtle, continue to transform people in unexpected ways.
The community of Chonco is one such example. After their water system was operational for the 170+ families, people began to build modern bathrooms, and a new school was built and opened. As transformation occurred, more and more families began to see the community as desirable, and they wanted to move to Chonco! Soon, a school that was built for 150 students was busting at the seams. Now, 8 new classrooms have been added, and 300 students attend the school. There are now 317 families that call the community of Chonco home.
And still families are moving there.
Juan Antonio Gonzales and his brother, Francisco, are two older gentlemen that moved to the Chonco a few years ago from a local city, Chinandega. When asked why he moved to a rural community from a city, Juan replied, ”Chonco is safe, and it has the reputation that there is opportunity for people. I heard that we can get a real bathroom and a new stove if we worked hard.” He and his brother eagerly joined the community leadership meetings to learn what they could do to obtain a modern bathroom. “I work as a security guard at night, and my brother stays home. We are saving money to improve the house so that my son, daughter-in-law, and their children can move here too. There is a great school here. Chonco is such a wonderful community, and we are so thankful for the peaceful atmosphere here.”
Both Juan and Francisco were drafted into the Nicaraguan Civil War decades ago. They solemnly and wisely reflect on their experience and outlook going forward. “We have lived through enough tragedy. To have opportunity. This is life.”
Promoting and encouraging strong leadership and helping provide access to clean water. These goals might appear to be simple solutions to poverty. However, in the long run, the ripple effect of a drastic change in a community carries the most weight and continues to change others. People want to live in a transformed community because transformed people transform people. Just ask Juan and his brother.