Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | February 18, 2014

The Context of Thirst

Valle Nuevo, El Salvador

Before beginning the work of drilling a water well at Valle Nuevo, our team visited some of the homes in the area. We did so to better understand the context of thirst in this village located in a rugged mountainous area near the Guatemalan border. Because water is so scarce in this region, the people must engage in water-collecting and rationing tasks every day.

The most reliable source of water for the people of Valle Nuevo comes from a mountain pool located at a higher elevation about five-kilometers from the village. The water from this pool is directed to the village through a two-inch pipe. Every three days the water that flows through this pipe is made available to a different sector of the village so that the precious resource is distributed equitably.

Daily Water
All of the folks that we visited with told us that, at best, they get a trickle of water through the pipe. So, they collect as much water as they can when it’s their turn to have access. They store what they collect in plastic bottles, clay pots, or whatever else they have available. This water is used primarily for drinking, cooking, and washing clothes. They do not have the luxury of having enough water for regular bathing.

One family we met had collected a couple hundred gallons of water that they stored in a concrete cistern. It has taken them several weeks to collect that much water. And although this sounds like a lot of water, it is far less than the average family in our suburban community uses in a single day of bathing, cooking, flushing toilets, watering lawns, washing cars, and other water-related tasks. For this family, these extra gallons are their reserve in case anything compromises the already unreliable flow of water from the mountain pool.

Understanding the context of thirst is important to our team. Meeting the people who have learned to survive by cleverly managing their limited stores of water helps us to better understand the importance of our task this week. The water well that we will provide will be a game-changer for the people of Valle Nuevo. This well will provide them with a more reliable and cleaner source of water for years, perhaps generations to come.

Our presence here has also motivated the villagers. They are helping in any way that they can — providing lunch, helping with miscellaneous tasks, digging pits in the hard-packed ground for our mud-drilling operation, and more. The success of this drilling operation is a top priority for all of us. As the principal of the local school announced to her students, we are the answer to their prayers for a reliable source of water.

We are off to a good start. We drilled to a depth of fifty-feet through the parched and concrete-hard ground on our first day. We must go much deeper still. No problem. We are prepared to go as deep as necessary in order to find water. Working shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Valle Nuevo keeps us aware of the context of thirst and keeps us working hard in the heat. The people here deserve access to a reliable source of clean water. Our hope is that this week their prayers will finally be answered.


  1. Good luck guys with the drilling and community work. Dennis (the cricket expert)

    • Thanks, Dennis. Miss having you here and miss our great conversations about cricket 😉

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