CFCA stories

Filipino community builds water system for others

April 1, 2011

Senti uses the Philippine water system
Senti, a resident of Camias, Philippines, fills a container from the new
community water station. Residents of two CFCA communities
worked together to build the system.

Families in the neighborhood of Bataan, a community served by CFCA in Manila, Philippines, were looking for a special way to commemorate the community's 10th anniversary.

They chose to help the village of Camias build a water system.

The Bataan neighborhood's desire to reach outside their immediate sphere and work together for the betterment of the greater community is evidence that the sponsorship program in Manila is working.

"One of the primary benefits of sponsorship is to plant the seeds so that families become agents of change in their communities," said Dan Pearson, CFCA's director of international programs.

The residents of Camias are primarily Aeta, an indigenous group who formerly lived at the base of Mount Pinatubo in southwest Luzon. When Pinatubo erupted in 1991, the Aeta were relocated.

Some of the Aeta landed in Camias. Camias consists of about 300 households, some with children and elderly in the CFCA Hope for a Family sponsorship program.

"The [Bataan group members] agreed to consult our indigenous families to identify the most important needs of the people," Manila Coordinator Veron Telar said.

Jin-Jin Malamug, a CFCA staff member who works with the Bataan group, met with fathers of the sponsored children in Camias. After much discussion, the Camias families eventually settled on the need for a water system.

"For so many years, our main water source is down the hill at the spring, far below our community's location," said Allan, a Camias community leader.

A long trek for water

Philippine community water system
People in Camias take turns using the new water system.

Because Camias residents had to hike down dozens of steep, rocky steps and back up every time they needed water, families could only manage to fill one five-gallon container a day.

Those five gallons had to accommodate the drinking, cooking and bathing needs for the entire family.

In comparison, the U.S. Geological Survey reports that average per capita water consumption in the U.S. is 90-100 gallons a day.

Construction of the water system was completed in early July 2010. Workers constructed a concrete storage tank near a different spring uphill from the community.

They dug a trench from the storage tank to a water station in the center of the community that was constructed long ago as part of a government project.

Workers laid more than 260 feet of PVC pipe in the trench, and installed faucets and a concrete pad at the community water station. Water flows freely to the water station through the force of gravity. A switch controls the flow of water into the station.

Working for a common goal

Everyone chipped in to help in some way or another.

The Manila project paid for the cost of materials and transportation for the Bataan workers. The Aeta families donated a portion of their monthly food benefit to help feed the workers, and some Camias workers who did not have children in the sponsorship program offered their labor.

"It was amazing to see people in the community cheerfully helping each other for a common goal," said Ronald, the father of a sponsored child in Camias.

Ronald said only a few "minor obstacles" were encountered, including a lack of proper digging tools and delays in construction as the workers tended to family responsibilities.

Families can now fill several five-gallon containers of water at a time. In addition to more convenient access to clean water, the community is realizing many other benefits from the new water station.

Families are happier

Maricar in the Philippines
Maricar, 7, drinks water from the faucet
in Camias. She is the younger sister of a
CFCA sponsored child.

"The schoolchildren are more cheerful and alert, maybe because they can drink enough clean water," Allan said. "Our relationship in the family has improved since we are not arguing anymore about who will fetch water."

Because of the convenient location of the water supply, the children can get water on their own to cook food after school.

And personal hygiene has improved. "We can sleep with clean feet now," one father said.

The community has plans to build more water stations to serve all the households in Camias.

Pearson said the Aeta and Bataan families have set a great example for other families in the sponsorship program.

"Their efforts represent what these families are capable of, their skills and compassion for others," he said. "This is part of what it means to be fully human — to live with dignity and serve others."

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