A local church group has worked for more than a year so a community in Nicaragua may have something that many Americans take for granted — safe drinking water.
Living Waters for the World is a mission project of the Synod of Living Waters, Presbyterian Church U.S.A.
Teams of volunteers are trained at Clean Water U, where courses over a five-day period cover partnership development, leadership, field survey, water testing, health, hygiene, spiritual education, and water system installation.
A group from First Presbyterian Church in Charleston began a project in December 2009 that last month culminated in clean drinking water for the village of Siares in the mountains of Metagalpa, Nicaragua.
K. Paul Davis, a church member and Charleston attorney, headed the project that he found both exciting and humbling. He was among 11 church members who took the training at Clean Water U in Oxford, Miss.
The project included a few trips to Nicaragua and a covenant between the people there and the church for operating and maintaining the new water system.
"Living Waters goes into areas where the water is adequate but not clean," Davis said. "It's a bottling system."
The residents there built the facility to house the water purification system and the church covered the cost. The church also will pay for maintaining the water system for a year. Meanwhile, the residents have formed a board to continue running the system.
The water the people had been drinking contained bacteria that could cause health issues, especially in the children, he said.
"The kids would get diarrhea and miss lots of school," Davis said. "In adults the immune system is more developed."
The total cost of the project was $30,000. Five years ago the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. held a capital campaign to raise $5 million with some of the funds dedicated to mission projects.
The cost of a water purification installation varies according to location, travel expenses, and construction requirements.
Davis said Nicaragua was an appropriate choice. Two members of First Presby already serve as missionaries there.