Water Project Update

Thank you so much for your interest in our all-volunteer, grass roots non-profit, New Dawn Guatemala. We are dedicated to working in solidarity with the social-justice-based, ex-refugee community of Nuevo Amanecer (New Dawn), Guatemala, and the surrounding area. For more detailed information or to donate or volunteer, please visit our website.

Because of you, we can support many vital projects for the community such as scholarships, job training, and tree planting. We will provide updates on those efforts next month; right now, we are very focused on the vital task of supporting the community’s efforts to provide clean, plentiful water for all. So, this newsletter will be water focused.

Please watch this short video that explains the project and why it is so important

Sustainable Water Project Nears End of First Phase

We have been working for the last three years to support the completion of a vital water project to provide many benefits to Nuevo Amanecer, including continuous, clean, and potable water, as well as the revitalization of the area around the natural spring that will provide much of the water.

The main community well, which we helped repair in 2015, only provides water for 9-10 months of the year, so community residents must wash their clothes in the polluted Santa Anita River for the remaining months. Also, the water from the well is not drinkable, so they must purchase drinking water in expensive, polluting plastic bottles.

The community plans to rectify this problem by capturing, storing, and transporting clean water from a natural spring located a half hour walk away, then beautifying and restoring the area with native plants to help attract solidarity visitors once the pandemic is over.

Much has been accomplished already – the community raised funds via their own fundraising and lobbying of the municipal government to purchase most of the land where the spring is located.

We have also contracted with a team of indigenous women water engineers to advise the community on technical aspects of the project.

Moreover, the Rotary Club of Seattle International District Club provided a generous grant to help us fund the first phase of the plan. We have also obtained valuable donations from you – our vital supporters – as well as Seattle’s First Baptist Church. The community has also pitched into the work wholeheartedly, providing sweat equity and learning valuable skills.

Work has been on hold recently due to the unusually heavy rains, which are heavier and more unpredictable every year in Nuevo Amanecer due to climate change. In early December, work will begin again. Then, if all goes well, the first part of the project will be completed, and Nuevo Amanecer will have clean, potable water for all its residents by early 2022!

To help fund this final step of the first phase, please donate on our website.

The Need for More Capacity Will Require a Second Phase

Despite this great success, the engineers have determined that the water from the existing spring will probably not be enough to sustain the community far into the future. So, we are working with the people of Nuevo Amanecer to get access to more water sources in an environmentally friendly way.

Working with the women indigenous engineers with whom we contracted, led by Project Manager Carolina Gonon, the community has identified two parcels nearby. The engineers believe the parcels could provide adequate water for many years to come and provide a buffer to ensure the land already acquired around the spring remains pristine and shielded against future development and possible pollution. Thus, the community has engaged in a long process of intense grass roots dialog and pressure with the municipal government to secure all or part to the funds to acquire these parcels for future community water needs.

Community Organizing and Pressure Wins Apparent Victory

The process has had several ups and downs. In July of this year, the community thought they had secured a commitment to provide the need funds to acquire the first needed parcel from the elected head of the municipal government, Adoram Miranda, with whom they had established a positive relationship. Yet before the agreement could be formalized, Mr. Miranda passed away unexpectedly. Much dismayed at the passing of their friend and worried about the fate of their funding request, the community continued to strongly make their case for needed water funds to the new municipal regime.

By mid-October, the people of Nuevo Amanecer won what they and we tentatively believe is a great victory. The new municipal government has agreed in principle to provide the 150,000 quetzales ($19,430), which would allow them to purchase a second parcel with considerable water capacity. The agreement has yet to be signed and we won’t celebrate till it is formalized. Still, the community appears to be on the verge of a significant achievement rooted in their tireless advocacy for water rights.

Third Phase- One More Parcel Needed to Provide Adequate Water

Our engineering team and Nuevo Amanecer’s Water Committee believe that even after the above-mentioned parcel is purchased, they will still require a bit more water capacity to be able to provide for the community far into the future. Happily, there is another nearby parcel which, it is believed, would fit the bill.

The community is working to acquire this parcel, pictured above, via their own fundraising and grass roots pressure on the municipal and national governments. We have also pledged to assist with our solidarity as much as we can. Donations to help fund this community based, eco-friendly project are greatly appreciated and can be made on our website.

Agua es Vida (Water is Life) – Please Support This Vital Project!

We are so excited to report that this long-anticipated project will soon finish its first phase and that clean, pure water will flow from a local, natural spring to the people of Nuevo Amanecer. It is a testimony to the dedication and hard work of the community, to you our supporters, and to our partners such as the Rotary Club of Seattle- International District, and the First Baptist Church.

We are also proud to report that the community’s grassroots pressure and organizing has apparently garnered support to acquire one of the other parcels that will be needed to complete the project.

This and so many other community successes, such as scholarships, job training, invasive species removal, and tree planting have only been possible due to the combination of super strong community efforts and our important solidarity.

Your vital support is needed to ensure that this clean, local water finally gets to the people who truly need it.

Consider a few more community comments:

“We really need the water project, so we won’t have to wash clothes any more in the polluted Santa Anita River, which often makes us sick”

          –Julia Magdalena López Sánchez, 61, community elder who lived 17 years in Mexican exile.

“The water project will let me shower when I come home dirty and exhausted from work – right now we only have water a couple hours a day every two days”

          –Angel López López 39, Agricultural Worker and Coordinating Council Member.

“We need water from the spring to not have to buy it from plastic bottles; they cost too much and pollute our community as we have no recycling”

          –Nallely Arreaga Roblero, 31- Member Elementary School Parents’ Committee

“It will be awesome when the project is completed so I can easily provide clean water to all the kids whenever they need it”

          –Leticia Floridalma, 22 -Domingo Méndez teacher in the community kindergarten

“I want the water project so I can splash my boyfriend which he totally hates”

         –Leslie “Lupita” Choj Dominguez 20, -community college student

“Water is life, this project will help us all in so many ways and will truly transform the life of our people far into the future”

         –Keyla Anareli Cifuentes Jiménez, 18,  culinary student and scholarship recipient.

Please donate what you can or get involved as volunteer to help sustain this life sustaining project.

Thanks so much!

New Dawn Guatemala Board of Directors

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