Update: Below is the inspiring story of Erica Madrid, a resilient leader who helped bring her community its first water system. Unfortunately, due to Hurricanes Eta and Iota, which both made landfall in Honduras in November 2020, the water system she helped develop has suffered heavy damage. You can read more about the impact here. Water For People is aiming to raise $1 million to begin the rebuilding process for Erica and her community.
Meet Erica Madrid, a community leader, mother, and advocate for clean and sustainable water for her community of San Antonio de Cortes, Honduras.
As a little girl, she grew up taking care of her family’s business and always had an inclination towards helping those in need. When she arrived at San Antonio with her husband 19 years ago, the community did not have a reliable water system. Most of the time, water was only available once a week, making life very difficult. Amidst her busy life raising three daughters, she kept hoping things would change.
She kept hoping until she realized it would take more than hope – she needed to act.
Although she would sometimes tell her husband she felt incapable, and although women are not usually leaders in her community, she knew the future of her daughters was at stake. So, she took a risk and began by volunteering to help coordinate the the water project that Water For People facilitated in partnership with the district government. That first brave step eventually led to her current role as Secretary of her community’s Water Board.
"As Secretary, I am deeply involved with community outreach, coordinating meetings, and empowering community members," she shares. "In many cases, I am the only woman on a board or out in the field, but my colleagues recognize my good work and understand that women also need to be leaders to accomplish big community goals."
Erica says it hasn’t been easy juggling home life with her challenging leadership roles. But her resilience and commitment carry her through. "I do the best I can every day because I have an honest commitment to the community and a desire to see it prosper," she says proudly. She is also proud of the community’s support, noting that a majority of the youth are becoming more involved in helping maintain the water system.
Through her community’s collaboration with Water For People, she has seen positive change. Now, every school and clinic in San Antonio have reliable water. Over 520 families also benefit from safe water, and can now focus on living healthier lives. Other neighboring communities have also seen San Antonio’s accomplishments and are replicating similar water projects.
Erica says she is grateful and hopes to continue working alongside her neighbors to keep the community healthier and more resilient.
"My hope is that we can continue striving to have the benefits of clean water forever. As a leader, people are watching and recognize my efforts and work ethic. I also know that my daughters are watching, and I that I am setting an example for them so they can benefit from having clean water and a brighter future."