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Sunday, March 22, 2015
Celebrating World Water Day 2015: How Mayan Families Helps
Katy Morris

In places like the US and Canada, having access to clean drinking water can be as simple as heading to our kitchen sink. But that is not the case for those living in extreme poverty in areas like rural Guatemala. About 100,000 people in the Lake Atitlán region rely on the lake for their primary drinking water; yet the lake is full of hazardous waste, chemicals and pathogens that can potentially cause death for those without access to medical care. 

Communities far from the lake lack basic infrastructure like pipes to allow water to flow. Hence, thousands of families must travel far distances to collect water, which is costly in both money and time.

Water-borne diseases that come from using unsafe water and having a continual lack of basic sanitation causes death in many cases; and among those must vulnerable are children as their growing bodies are simply not strong enough to fight off diarrhea and other water-borne illnesses. 

Here at Mayan Families, we believe that something as basic as clean water means better health, education, and income-generating potential. In short, clean water can both save and change lives. On this global day of celebrating water and recognizing those who do not have access to it, we are proud to share with you what we are doing to help in rural Guatemala.

Water Filters

Photo Credit: Brendan James

As part of our Family Aid Program, we provide families with simple water filters that are easily installed and maintained. We visit families' homes to deliver the filters and teach them the basics of how to use and clean then, as well as the benefits it will provide for them.

Photo Credit: Brendan James

The water filters distributed by Mayan Families have long-term social, economic and environmental impacts on the entire family. With the donation of a water filter, you can provide an investment in the health and well-being of the family through preventing water-borne diseases which when not addressed inhibit the capability for parents to go to work and children to attend school - and often can cause death.

These filters have a lifespan of up to 10 years and save money for the family that would be spent on either medical bills or fuel/wood to boil water.  From an environmental perspective, these water filters are highly sustainable as the only energy they utilize is gravity, whereas methods such as boiling water and purchasing bottled water have dire effects on our presently fragile environment. 

Each year, we provide water filters to nearly 300 families, which means thousands throughout rural Guatemala now have access to clean drinking water. In addition, each Preschool Nutrition Center as well as other public schools throughout the region now have them for students of all ages. 

Community & School Water Projects 

Last year, we completed our first community-wide water project in the village of Nahualá and have just finished our second one in San Jorge La Laguna - both with the integral support of the Upper Arlington Rotary Club. We worked directly with community leaders and employed local residents to implement extensive pipe systems, enabling hundreds of households to receive flowing water for the first time. We are currently discussing a project to tie in an additional spring to bring water to even more residents in San Jorge and are exploring more opportunities for 2015. 

We also installed a water filtration system (that removes harmful contaminants before reaching a faucet) in the elementary public school in Tierra Linda and are looking to expand this in other schools in the region with the help of Rotary International. 

We invite you to join us in our efforts to provide Guatemalans living in extreme poverty with the simple yet crucial need of clean water.

To learn more about our water projects, please contact To learn more about our water filters, please contact

To donate a water filter for just $121 to a family or elderly in need, click here and select "Water Filter". 

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