Peace Corps Collaboration
Global Water is part of a unique collaborative effort in Guatemala called the“Healthy Schools Program.” This effort has developed over the years informally between Global Water, a local Guatemalan non-governmental organization (NGO), and Peace Corps volunteers. We’ve funded dozens of schools now through this program in Guatemala and our objective is to expand the program to include village projects and to spread this program within Guatemala and to additional countries. This collaborative project has the potential to become a major program that could support water oriented technical work of Peace Corps volunteers around the world.
The US Peace Corps has volunteers throughout the world. Often, these individuals have the desire and passion to build needed water, sanitation and hygiene related facilities for the communities they are working with, but lack the construction expertise to actually build such facilities. For many years, GLobal Water has received requests from Peace Corps volunteers to help them with construction information and funding. Global Water saw this as an opportunity to assist Peace Corps volunteers and created “how to” instructional guides to allow anyone to learn how to build these worthwhile and needed facilities. Currently, these construction guides are available on the Global Water website and include hand washing stations, water storage tanks, seepage pits, spring protection/catchment systems and latrines.
Peace Corps volunteers can identify new projects for rural villages and schools and with Global Water’s construction instructions can find local masons to help build facilities. In addition, Peace Corps volunteers can provide day-to-day supervision of water-related projects as well as lead hygiene education programs once the facilities are built. Besides the construction instructional guides, Global Water provides the technical and fiscal management needed to successfully execute projects through this innovative collaboration with Peace Corps volunteers.
The Global Water and Peace Corps Collaboration has the potential to become a major program that could support water, sanitation and hygiene related projects around the world. Due to the presence of Peace Corps volunteers in remote rural parts of developing countries and Global Water’s ability to manage and finance technical projects, this proposed collaboration would have far reaching positive impacts.
The rural communities that Global Water works with in developing countries have no political power, have no visibility and have no voice in the discussion of the human right to water. In all of our projects we try to give them a voice in the world to say: “yes, everyone deserves the right to safe water.”
Please contact Global Water if you’d like to consider funding this program.
Below is an article one of our volunteers wrote for World Water Day (March 22nd) describing a program Global Water participates in to support rural elementary schools in Guatemala.
Creating Healthy Schools in Guatemala through a Unique Collaboration of Non-Profit Organizations and Rural Communities
By Laura Thomas
In a rural school adjacent to a small village in Guatemala, a Peace Corps volunteer stood before a group of schoolchildren. Holding her hands out in front of her, she rubbed them together, mimicking the motions of lathering soap, then extended them back under the imaginary spigot. The lesson was on hand-washing and was part of the Peace Corp volunteer’s assignment to teach health and hygiene to the rural poor. The “Healthy Schools Program”, as it has become known in Guatemala, is supported by the Appropriate Technology Program of the Peace Corps. There was one vital ingredient conspicuously missing from the lesson however.
Having developed many water systems in Guatemala, Global Water saw an opportunity to assist the Peace Corps volunteers who were trying their best to educate schoolchildren about proper hygiene but without the tools to do so. As an international non-profit, non-sectarian, and all-volunteer organization, Global Water funds water and sanitation projects to benefit the rural poor in the developing world. Global Water had successfully partnered with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on previous projects in Guatemala to build village water supplies and sanitation facilities. In these projects, Global Water provided the funding and water treatment expertise, while the NGO’s provided the construction expertise and local supervision necessary to build the water systems. Now the Peace Corps would add other key components to this partnership to make school facilities a reality – their day-to-day involvement with the community which was needed to gain permission to work at schools, as well as the teaching acumen to create a hygiene education program. Finally, the communities themselves had to contribute to the project, by providing manual labor to support the building of the water facilities.
The result has been a collaborative effort at its finest.
Through the Healthy Schools projects in Guatemala, rural schools in need receive water systems, latrines, kitchen stoves and hand washing stations. Global Water’s funding helps provide these systems that are simple to operate, maintain, and are constructed of materials that will last for decades.
Once these facilities are installed, the schools participating in the Healthy Schools program are required to implement an educational program to teach students how and why to use the new hygiene facilities. This education program is usually created by the Peace Corps volunteer who helped build the facilities at the school. Once this program is in place, the school is inspected by the Minister of Health, and can be recognized as a “Healthy School” by the Guatemalan government. Such a designation is a point of pride for the children, teachers and members of these rural communities. Its long-term effects on the health and well-being of the community are immeasurable.
Not to mention the effect on the Peace Corps volunteer, whose job is easier now that she stands in front of the newly installed “lavamanos”, explaining to the class the correct way to wash ones hands. Yes there is soap, and see how well it lathers, and yes there is water, clean water, in which to rinse. And don’t forget, she admonishes the group, to turn off the water when you are done.
For Global Water and its supporters, it is time to grow this invaluable Peace Crops collaboration model, and make a difference!