ABOUT THE PROJECT
Deep in the Guatemalan Jungle of Peten can you find pockets of villages such as this one known as Sepac. The friendly and welcoming deminer of the Q’eqchi tribe warms the heart as they prepare for our arrival, waiting on a road two and half hours walking distance their homes. Unphased by the weight of our equipment, they strap boxes, gasoline tanks, and even a generator to their backs, then gliding at high speed through the muddied paths back home. Many unable to speak even Spanish shone bright under the sporadic heavy rain falls lasting anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours unannounced.
What could possibly be the need of such humble villagers who seem to be without wanting, only to provide a safe environment for their families while continuing the traditions of their ancestors and extending their existence here on Earth for as long as possible?
The short answer…support. The Maya have been fighting for their existence for centuries; yet they are not violent. Their way of fighting is to never give up, to hold strong in their traditions and provide for their families with whatever they can grow from their lands. Sadly, this isn't enough, the quality of their land makes it very difficult to yield a plentiful supply. This forces them to walk many miles across the rugged terrain where the land is more fertile and therefore capable to harvest somewhat larger crops. These fertile lands are shared among other Mayan tribes also living many miles away. So why wouldn’t these villagers just move closer to the crops?
Thirty years ago, the first settlers came across ancient ruins hidden in the mountains. Signs showing life had existed centuries before, made it clear to them that the grounds they walked on were sacred and must be protected. And so, a group of 30 families, including a pastor, teachers and carpenters, established the village of Sepac and began their search for sources of food and water.
Unfortunately, the only water supplies in proximity are small natural wells, 1 meter wide x 2 meters deep. A few streams also flow throughout the village, but due to steep slopes and heavy rains, the collected water is anything but clear and safe to drink. The larger sources of water are mainly used for bathing and washing clothes, although when dry season comes, the smaller wells are not enough to provide even tainted water, and so the villagers must drink where they wash. There is no option to buy bottled water, as many in other cultures do to counter the water dilemma, for workers bring in approx. $175CAD a month to provide all the necessities for their family.
This village truly follows a community system, with elders joined together in any decision making, including accepting to allow us foreigners in being the first to step foot on sacred ground, their discovered Mayan temple.
Our job, is to provide water filtration systems to this community so they begin to change their fate and thrive where there was no hope beforehand.
Sepac is located just west of the municipality of Chahal, in the Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz. East of Belize, whose borders are unofficially outlined on the map. South of a restaurant landmark off the main road, where the rest is by foot, a few hours walk into the jungle. Only guided by the light-footed villagers and the natural light of the sun or moon...preferably sun.
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