Dry and rough to the touch, Don Guillermo’s hands tell stories of sacrifice, hard work, and pride. With a shovel gripped tightly, and a smile across his face, the 66-year-old knows the definition of hard work:
"As a rural farmer, we get up early to work on the fields and get home late. Everything I do, I do for my family. I’ve always had to carry water from long distances as I raised my 7 children."
Since he was a small boy growing up in Arani, Bolivia, Don Guillermo never had a reliable water system or bathroom close to his home. People in Arani would often get sick and have to travel up to four miles in search of water. Life finally improved for his community in 2015, when the District of Arani partnered with Water For People to construct a water system. After the project was completed, Don Guillermo began to see the benefits of having reliable water for his community, and he wanted to keep on improving his family’s life. He knew the next step was to build a bathroom at his home. He also knew it would not be easy – he would need to save money and acquire the technical knowledge and supplies to construct it.
Owing to his resilient spirit, and with even more hard work and committed determination, five years later, Don Guillermo is close to completing the construction of a dignified bathroom for his family.
Don Guillermo explains that the District WASH Office and Water For People provided technical assistance to help families in Arani construct their own bathrooms. As part of a municipal incentives program, Don Guillermo bought the pipes and completed the construction of the bathroom structure himself. The District WASH Office then provided him with a toilet and a sink to install in his new bathroom. His eyes shine when he recounts how he began to build the bathroom with his own hands:
"I would mix dirt, straw, and water to form the clay that would create the walls and the roof. Slowly I could see the transition of an uninhabited space gradually becoming a bathroom that would bring dignity and health to my family."
This year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a mandatory 2-month quarantine, Don Guillermo could not sell most of the corn he cultivated and had a significantly lower income. However, he did not let this situation stop him from achieving the dream of constructing his own bathroom because he knows it is an investment in his family’s health. By having access to reliable water and sanitation, Don Guillermo can better protect himself and his family from the threats of the pandemic.
"Now that I have clean water and am close to finishing the bathroom, I no longer have to go to the river. I can clean my hands close by and spend more time with my family. I am very happy and excited to see what comes next."