Jen and I travelled to a community called “Coyolate” to meet with my church (Coastal Christian) Missions team.
Coastal Christian partnered with an organization called Mission Impact, working specifically with Gerber and Michelle Perez (who are missionaries supported by my church). Gerber and Michelle have a program called “Healthy Communities.” Healthy Communities partners with local leaders, churches, schools, and other organizations to empower and equip people to be able to solve their own problems. Their mission aligns with Hydromissions in the way that we both work to share the love of Christ while training and equipping people with appropriate technology.
I met Gerber back in 2008 and have learned a lot from his projects over the years. Technically, we work with different solutions for contaminated water – Gerber with biosand filters, while I primarily drill and build catchment systems- but it is the way he works in communities that has shaped how I work in my project communities.
My church sends a Mission team down once a year to work with Healthy Communities. I went with my church team back in 2013 (for their first time in Coyolate) and my travel schedule aligned perfectly this year for me (and Jen!) to help them after our time in El Salvador. Coastal Christian had 14 teamembers: Jim, Kathy & Jessica Rycek (our awesome team leaders and their fun uke-playing daughter), Deborah (our artist who created a masterpiece in the classroom), Bruce (the man behind the new preschool), Theresa & Gabby (mom and daughter team who worked exceptionally well with the kids and brought smiles to everyones faces), Jim (our master of all trades), Jacob & Chloe (father daughter team who brought the most laughter and fun to our group), Matt & Jesse (father son team who brought us some campsite rap and scored the only gringo goal in the soccer game), Paul (our hardest worker and our encyclopedia) and Laida (our ice cream connoisseur and all-around fun worker). Jen and I added some talent to the mix – her rad beatboxing and my…uh… wait, what talent did I add to the group? I’m pretty good at mixing concrete while making sound effects and standing on one leg. That is one highly marketable talent right there 😉
For this particular work week, we had four primary tasks- (1) Build Biosand Filters, (2) Build Fuel-Efficient Stoves, (3) Paint murals on the new preschool and (4) Teach English classes to the kids in the local public school.
The water filters are built alongside locally trained water technicians. The biosand filters are built with members of the family who will be receiving the stoves.
Coyolate has access to water, but it comes from a contaminated source so the biosand filters in each home clean the water for safe consumption. The stoves are designed to use less wood and vent the smoke so there is less time used to collect firewood AND the families don’t have to breath the smoke whenever cooking is being done.
I worked primarily with the water filters while Jen moved between painting and teaching the school kids.
There is too much about Coyolate for just one post, so I will be sharing again about it soon!
P.S. The story behind the title…
Before leaving for our trip, our church gathered the team onstage and prayed during church service. Pastor Matt was joking about the english translastion for the community name “Coyolate” based on the way it sounded when he pronounced it, Pastor Matt jokingly called it “Coy Latte” which obviously means Sassy Coffee in English 😉