Cuilapa, Guatemala – In First Person

We travel today to Cuilapa, Guatemala. Edith lives with her three daughters, her two sisters, and her mother. Edith’s neighborhood of Canton Utzumazate is quiet and beautiful, but doesn’t have access to safe drinking water, electricity or paved roads. The families living there must buy safe water weekly to cook their food and practice safe hygiene. During this pandemic, Edith’s family has followed the government’s advice to wash their hands often, but it has proven to be an expensive task for their large family.

Edith used to work as a housekeeper for a family, but lost her job because of the quarantine. With schools closed, her girls can no longer attend our partner boarding school, Hogar Santa Rosa de Lima, making the situation extremely difficult as Edith struggles to feed her entire family on no income.

According to a 2019 report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, billions of people around the world continue to suffer from poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene. The report states that “some 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safely managed (free from contamination) drinking water services, 4.2 billion people do not have safely managed sanitation services, and 3 billion lack basic handwashing facilities.” This lack of access has proven especially dangerous to vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the most-emphasized piece of health advice – wash your hands often – remains out of reach for so many.

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