Brian serves on the Water for Chinandega Team, analyzing data and monitoring progress to ensure continued movement forward.

Final Bathrooms are in for Espabel

In early February 2023, a church from Iowa called City Point came to Amigos to support the construction of Modern Bathrooms in the community of El Espabel. The group was fairly small, and primarily consisted of hard-working construction workers, general contractors, and farm boys. To spread the work out, everyone divided into 3 groups, working right alongside 3 families from El Espabel.

The Modern Bathrooms are designed to replace the open pit latrines, which are a major source of intestinal parasites in rural communities. They consist of a flush toilet, sink, shower, and a septic tank. The advantage of this over the open pit latrine is largely driven by the septic tank, which not only eliminates odors but also prevents interaction of the wastewater with the surrounding soil. Thus, the combination of clean drinking from a deep community well and the modern bathroom with enclosed septic should be a good recipe for improved health and hygiene for the families.

The families we worked with that week in Espabel were some of the last ones in the whole community to receive their Modern Bathrooms, due to financial strains and their difficulty in completing the final financial obligation. In fact, El Espabel is one of the most financially-strapped communities that Amigos has partnered with, due to lack of land and shortage of available jobs in the area. The community itself resides in the middle of a large sugarcane field, and most of the men in Espabel have found low-paying, back-breaking jobs working in those same fields. The women largely tend to the duties of the home, but some of them also have found work in the sugar cane industry.
In spite of the hardships in Espabel, we were welcomed very warmly and had a wonderful week working on the bathrooms. Most of the work consisted of helping with the construction of the septic tank. This involved a lot of digging in the hot sun, but also some masonry required for the construction of the walls of the septic tank. The head mason at our work site, Jason, was very friendly and included everyone City Point church in the construction process. The families where we worked also contributed heavily to the manual labor, and so I was very pleased to witness such a beautiful intercultural exchange.

The good news is that Espabel has already seen improvements in health and hygiene. The occurrence of pathogenic intestinal parasites was reduced from 40% in 2021 to only 6% in 2022. Thus, we have reason to believe that the newly built bathrooms this year will help the families, as well. But our hope is that the Modern Bathroom not only improves the quality of life for the family through improved health and hygiene, but that the bathroom also serves a memory of the week that a group of farm-boys from rural Iowa came down to Nicaragua share a few meals, share in the work, and spread God’s joy.

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