I feel extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to take our six scholarship recipients to El Salvador with Living Water International, a Christian organization that builds wells across the globe for communities in need of clean water (https://water.cc/). The six students on my team included Aimee Bourey and Caroline Matlock of TAMU College Station, Russell Thomas and Christine Owojori of Prairie View A&M and Lisseth Diaz and Cesar Villarreal of TAMIU in Laredo. Ida Noack of Weathermatic also joined our team, making it a group of eight. SSC funded each of the students’ trips. Weathermatic, along with Hart Elementary, sponsored the well.
We spent our week in a tight knit community called Puente Viejo in the “department” or state of La Paz, El Salvador. I was told by one of the community’s leaders that Puente Viejo has a population of 198 living in 36 houses. Seeing the poverty first-hand was extremely humbling. It was heart-wrenching to see how the community members live knowing what we have here in the States, but at the same time, it was so heartwarming to be in their company and to see that overall, they are happy people. Giving them access to clean water through the well meant the absolute world to this community. The depth of the well reached 75 meters, or about 246 feet. Living Water returned to Puente Viejo on the Monday after our week there and performed a water test. I am delighted to report that the water tested clean!
In addition to building the well, we also taught hygiene classes with lessons on very basic concepts that we take for granted such as handwashing and teeth brushing. Thanks to the generous contributions of several dental offices in the Bryan/College Station area, I brought toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss to the community. I would like to thank Brazos Valley Orthodontics for donating 300 toothbrushes and many travel sized toothpastes and College Station Modern Dentistry for providing 25 kits containing toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss. Women, men and children of this community were very excited and most appreciative of these items. It’s amazing that the things we consider basic necessities are scarce for these community members.
There were so many beautiful moments of the trip that are etched in my memory. One in particular was so humbling. After my day on the drilling team, mud covered my face and one of the women who I had gotten to know in the community took a bowl of water and washed my face. The temperature had cooled down that afternoon and the ladies made coffee for us on their makeshift stove (think camping). Even though I was so dirty, another community member came up and hugged me. She didn’t care that I was covered in mud and getting mud on her. She was so overcome with thankfulness and gratitude and wanted to show it. The community members of Puente Viejo are so precious and have left a lasting impact on me. They truly have servants’ hearts and would do anything for anyone. Despite their poverty, they are rich in happiness, laughter, hugs, smiles and living in the moment. I learned so much from them and am extremely thankful for this amazing experience that I was able to share with my team.
By Sarah Boreen, Customer Relations Manager for SSC at TAMU College Station