Have you ever wondered how women in the highlands do their laundry?

For most of us, laundry and cleaning our clothes is not a task that we think too much about. We groan as we haul our dirty clothes to the washing machine, load it in, and push a few buttons. Then do other things while we wait until it’s finished. It’s a chore that we have the liberty of putting off until the last moment and we don’t have to do much for our clothes to be clean again. This story may change your perspective on doing laundry and make you appreciate the buttons that you press to have fresh clothes. 

For women in the Highlands, doing laundry looks a bit different. Most homes do not use electricity or have running water. Women take their families clothes and use water from the ground in ponds or small holes. Many times, they will knead the clothes on a rock, rotating and pushing the water out of huipiles (traditional shirt) and cortes (traditional skirt). After washing, they will leave the clothes out on shrubs or on the ground to dry. The ground is often contaminated with animal feces which causes skin irritation and rashes when the clothes are worn. It is also physically taxing for women. They are on their knees or standing for 2-3 hours, sometimes half a day depending on how many people are in the family. 

These are some of the reasons that these women petitioned to have a wash station built in their communities. They are able to more comfortably lean against a wall and wash their clothes using clean water and with a proper drainage system. It allows them to be more efficient with the time and resources they use to clean their families clothes. Many women say that this is their time to be outside, in nature and maybe socialize with some of the other women. Their connection to the natural world is imperative to their culture and doing laundry is a time where they are able to be outside. 

A few months ago we built two wash stations and we want to build more. We have seen how much it makes a difference in women's lives and how badly they want a wash station. It is also imperative for the health and sanitation of women and families. We hope to be able to continue to build these wash station and as another project, we also want to start building a roof and adding clotheslines in communities that really need them.

Would you like to support this project? We invite you to check out our #WashStations4Women campaign and donate to start building roofs and adding clotheslines to both washer stations that we already built!

Diana Alvarado