Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ulpan Valley - a background

I have gone to Guatemala 3 times on "water mission trips."

But what exactly does that mean?

With another trip coming up next week, I thought it would be helpful to clarify for those of you who have asked -sometimes on numerous occasions- what we do when we say we're doing water missions.

There is the technical aspect to our projects that I am probably more inclined to put the focus on, as those details are what actually fill my mind leading up to a trip. But first, let me tug on your hearts and show you who are the people of Ulpan Valley.

Ulpan Valley lies in the Alta Verapaz region of north/central Guatemala, a region referred to as the "corridor of death," having one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

There is also a history of economic oppression in this region.  Many families saw their land taken by German and Spanish explorers and then were allowed to continue to work the land as indentured servants of sort.  Technological advances of recent decades began to influence the area but these people, with no economy to speak of, poor health and little education, were at risk of being left in the dust unless they could reach economic independence. 

Local depiction of the Ulpan community Benitzul

  In order to provide a solid economic infrastructure that involves and empowers the community rather than distributing charity, Project Ulpan created a plan of action that incorporates the community members in the overall development plan, and the implementation of economic, technological and health/water related projects.

From Living Water's "Plan of Action" for Project Ulpan:
"A total of 17 Communities comprising over 7,100 individuals are now a part of Project Ulpan, with the possibility of adding more in the near future.  Each of these communities are unique, and each are considering which aspects of Project Ulpan might most benefit them, but one common thread runs through each community: the need for clean and accessible water.  Because of this, Project Ulpan recognized the need to standardize a “Plan of Action” for assessing, designing and constructing water systems in the communities [... ] Project Ulpan is a deliberate long-term organization dedicated to helping God’s people in this part of Guatemala."

Clean, uncontaminated water sources are scarce in this area, forcing the women and children to walk up to 4 miles in some areas to collect water, usually twice a day. For this reason, very few girls make it past primary school education. The people as a whole speak the Mayan language Kekchi (english spelling) but only the educated males are ever able to learn Spanish.

By installing something as seemingly basic as a spigot (shown above) to bring fresh spring water from farther up the mountain to each home, we can not only improve the health and general wellness of each person in the valley, but may empower them to take their health, education and wellbeing into their own hands and provide the possibility of a future most of us take for granted to these girls who never had it.

Ulpan Valley - part II will explain more about the specific projects implemented - as well as what we will be doing when I return this April with my local Engineers Without Borders chapter. 

If you would like to support us prayerfully and/or financially, it would be greatly appreciated!

To give financially, click this link -->  MissionsGiving
and then follow these instructions:
1. Fill in the blanks as follows
Name: Mallory Peterson,  or EWB Nashville
Type: Donation
Trip: Guatemala-EWB
Amount:  specify amount
 Fill in the rest of the sections with your billing and payment info and you are good to go!
Thanks for your support and time! 

1 comment:

    THANKS FOR THE EXPLANATION. So nicely done. It could translate nicely into a book or pamphlet. It will be exciting to track the health improvements and mortality rates as adequate water access improves. I had no idea Project Ulpan reached so many communities. Did I mention lately how proud I am of you???? I giggle when I think of how young you were when you first panicked over wasting water. Tee Hee.