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A Passion for Clean Water in Bluefields: Alonso's Story

By Casey Callais -- It's been about four months since blueEnergy started working with families in barrio Santa Rosa in Bluefields. We already told you about Celia from Santa Rosa, now we would like to tell you about the head of another family who lives a block away.

Alonso Rodriguez and his family were some of the first beneficiaries of a biosand water filter and a baptist well in their neighborhood. They are very grateful; the water quality situation in their area is not a good one. "In this part of St Rosa, our wells dry up," said Alonso. "Thanks to blueEnergy we have solved our problem with water.”

The family and the water filter

The closest well that Alonso is referring to is owned by a neighbor but is used by the all of the surrounding houses. It is also at the end of a sidewalk where garbage is collected weekly for pickup. It is from this well that his family was drinking unfiltered water.

The well that Alonso was using before. Notice the garbage piled up in front.

He lives with his wife and two sons who were both born blind and with learning disabilities. She stays with the kids full time, he drives a taxi part time in the evenings. They share their house with another young family who also have two children. Water is abundant, but clean water is a valuable commodity. When asked about if his family had noticed a difference in the quality of water since their filter was installed back in June, he said they haven’t had stomach problems or skin breakouts due to the contaminated water. Because of this they feel safe and confident of the quality of their water.

Alonso and family with their filter

The neighbors and the Baptist well

Drilling the wells is a simple but time-consuming practice of lifting a boring pipe up and slamming it down into a water-filled hole, which shoots water and sediment through the end. After completion the wells are closed to prevent contaminants from entering the water supply from the top. They are also drilled at a considerably cheaper cost than the traditional open pit-style wells. Usually it takes about a week to drive it to the desired 70' - 80' depth. Though they are much narrower than traditional wells, they access the water table down to a much greater depth, allowing for a more sanitary water source away from contaminated ground water.

Neighbors from six houses contributed to boring the well in Alonso’s yard and will share it when they need water. Barbara Blandón lives one house over and has a small store that sells cold drinks. In the months when her well may be dry, she can rely on the Baptist well to make the frescoes (fruit juices) that she sells.

blueEnergy intern Andrew Peterson drilling the well with the locals

Alonso shows off the finished well

Alonso and the next step

Alonso's hard work during the building of the filter and well and his first-hand experience with the way blueEnergy executes projects on the community level has landed him a job working with blueEnergy's Water and Sanitation team.

According to Thibaut Demaegdt, head of the Water and Sanitation team, for future projects blueEnergy will have two groups drilling wells simultaneously. Because Alonso demonstrated a great work ethic during the drilling of the well at his house and was able to motivate the neighbors when the energy levels got low, he was the first choice as someone who could lead the second team.

Alonso on the left giving a thumbs up during a water team meeting

The future of the blueEnergy water team is a bright one, as is the future for the beneficiaries in Santa Rosa. And of course for Alonso and his family, the future couldn't be brighter.

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