The strong breeze that is characteristic of the community of San Miguelito brings a glimpse of relief from the scorching Nicaragua heat. It also stirs up dirt and creates a menacing dust storm, showering a layer of dust on chairs, tables, and people in Teofilo Betanco Palma’s humble home. His wife hurries off to fill a bucket of water to use to wet the dirt and decrease the dust. Knowing that their family walks for 3 hours each day to retrieve that water makes her use it very sparingly.
Teofilo Betanco Palma is 68 years old, and he has lived in the community of San Miguelito for 45 years. His first house was destroyed by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. He has since built a new house, where he currently lives with his wife of 44 years and 6 other family members. He smiles as he talks about his “greatest blessing,” his family. He and his wife have 9 children and 22 grandchildren.
Teofilo is very involved and respected in his community. He serves in a leadership role on the Community Water and Sanitation Committee, and he manages an organized and successful agriculture business. His family raises cows, horses, chickens, pigs, ducks, and turkeys. He also encourages economic development for his fellow community members by renting storage bins for crops. Community farmers harvest their crops in season when their value is lower, and then they store the crops in Teofilo’s bins until their supply decreases and value increases. Farmers can then sell their crops at a higher price because of their increased value.
His encouragement certainly appears to be working, as San Miguelito has an incredible participation rate. To date, 94% of the community, 149 families, are participating in the Water for Chinandega project. Teofilo was one of the first community members to take the courageous step toward change by completing his payment for the water system. “The visits from the Amigos Community Advocates have given me a lot of confidence, and I trust this project will help our entire community.”