The Guatemala Water Project received a $2,000 grant last month from Lowe’s Charitable and Education Foundation. The foundation collaborated with Enactus to award 50 teams around the country.
The project, one of the John Brown University teams, is committed to providing clean water to the people of Cotzal, Guatemala.
Clayton Anderson, the University’s Enactus advisor, said the grant will be a “tremendous help” in paying for the construction costs in the town.
Because of poor conditions plaguing the community since their Civil War ended in 1996, the water is contaminated with bacteria, which cause diseases to spread. The resulting sicknesses prevent parents from working and children from attending school.
“The village is very poor, and they don’t have education,” said senior Andrea Morales, co-leader of the project.
This project not only improves the community by setting up a water purification system, but also communicates on a weekly basis with residents who are voluntarily building an infrastructure to house the new water purifier.
The previous building was unstable, unreliable and could potentially destroy the machine under the wrong circumstances. The new Compassion International Student Center will provide a safe location for the water purification technology.
“The demolition and construction that had to occur was costly,” Anderson said.
Meredith Stricker is a project assistant and mentor to the project’s leaders. She said Morales and junior Ernesto Lopez Chan Skype every Monday evening with the resident leaders for business training in Guatemala.
Because the government has restrictions on water and its sale, the program requires more involvement on the ground.
“This is the holistic community model or the cooperative model,” said Chan. “Families will pay a monthly fee for membership and go through hygiene classes that will be provided by the center. In return, free clean water and hygiene education.”
In the leaders’ business training, they are focusing on a business plan for the people. They will take into consideration the monthly cost of the membership and the income of the residents.
The project received over $20,000 thus far including the Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant, but still needs more donations.
Chan first found out about the grant by subscribing to the Enactus USA website.
He wondered whether the Guatemala Water Project was eligible to apply considering it aids people on an international level.
“I was so glad Ernesto Chan raised the question because they responded saying Lowe’s does consider international projects,” Anderson said.
Morales, along with Stricker, filled out the application for the grant. The only issue they encountered was a 250-word limit, which required them to keep their explanation of the project concise.
Because of the grant, the project is one step closer to reaching their goal of implementing clean water for the community.
On April 16, the 50 selected teams will turn in a Final Impact Report that will entail how each project has impacted others. The top five of the 50 will receive an extra $5,000.