Eight Women Built the First Washer Station in the Highlands!
There is a lot that goes into any project behind the scenes. However, the project planned for the first week of July has a particularly significant story behind it. The Chiquix community, located at 7,900 feet of elevation and an hour drive from Xela, needed a wash station. Their previous wash station used electricity to pump water up a hill which was not monetarily sustainable for the community. As a result, the women were washing clothes on the ground while kneeling. Additionally, they would leave the clothes on the ground to dry. The ground is contaminated with animal feces and thus, would leave people with rashes and skin irritations due to the way their clothes were drying. The women were in need of a new wash station, but it was hard to get the men in the community to listen.
With the help of Doña Lupe and Paola from HSP, the women were able to talk to their husbands, uncles, and grandfathers to express how a new wash station would benefit not only them but the whole community. With a new wash station, clothes would be cleaned more efficiently and more hygenically. Afterwards, the community wrote petitions to HSP to have this wash station built.
On June 29, 8 volunteers, many connected through the United Methodist Women or other churches in Virginia, arrived. They were ready to help the community in any way to build this wash station that they had wanted for so long. Carol, Marilyn, Lorraine, Betsy, Jackie, Caroline, Barb, and Vicky started to work on July 1 after a ceremony that the community had organized with gifts of flowers but more importantly testimonials of why they needed this wash station and how it would affect them.
After four days of working with the local masons, the wash station was almost ready to be put to use. The volunteers noted how involved the men were with this Project. Some of them had come to Guatemala with HSP for thirteen years or more years and they said that they had never seen so many men involved with a Project. This was the first wash station that they had every built and they got to experience the remarkable community effort that it took to construct it.
When it was time for the volunteer group to leave, many of them said how during this project it was especially clear how needed this wash station was. They also left with a newfound appreciation for being able to return home and only have to push buttons to do their laundry.
Written by. Adrienne H.