Check out the photo gallery below from our most recent volunteer team trip. Two men from First Baptist Church Benbrook, Mark and Tracy, joined Agua Yaku in distributing over 100 water filters in six indigenous communities along the Biata River near Riberalta, Beni, Bolivia. It was almost a three hour flight up to this far northern part of Bolivia. Agua Yaku has been working in Riberalta for several months in cooperation with the Swiss Evangelical Mission based in Riberalta. We have drilled over 25 wells in a number of indigenous communities. We had planned to drill water wells on this trip, but the rainy season has come early to Bolivia. The bridge to Rosario, the first community we had planned to visit, recently washed away during high water flooding. At the second community, Buen Destino, we could not get our drilling equipment across the river because the community’s ferry recently sank!
We were able to cross the river in smaller boats with our personal gear and with water filters. We visited six communities of both the Cavineña and Tacana people groups. As you can see from our pictures, our team traveled via motorcycle and boat to reach isolated small communities along the river and near lakes deep in the jungle.
Although their first language is still their indigenous dialect, almost everyone also speaks Spanish. They are farmers, fishermen, and hunters. The primary source of cash income in all of these communities comes from selling wild Brazil nuts they collect from amazon forest. When the nut pods begin to fall in December, the community members will trek for days to find and collect as many kilos as they can.
These families get their drinking water from rain water, and from contaminated rivers, lakes, and shallow hand-dug wells. They were amazed at how quickly and conveniently the Sawyer water filters purify any water source. We do not give the filters away completely free of charge. We only give free filters to institutions such as schools, health posts, and community centers and churches so that everyone can have access to the water filters. Of course we also want every family to have one in their home. We offer them to families at a subsidized price of about $15 USD. Half of the cost being paid for by Agua Yaku donors and half by the families. No one in any community on this trip had any cash, so they all promised to pay their part in January after the Brazil nut harvest.
As many of you have probably heard, we are working hard to design and manufacture our own water filter, called AQUASIV, which we hope to offer at an even lower cost. STAY TUNED!
While there are established evangelical churches in several of these communities, others nominal Catholics or do not practice any faith. The pastors and missionaries from the Swiss Evangelical Mission have a good relationship with people from all these communities. We also participated in a Wednesday night evangelical service where Mark and Tracy shared their testimonies and the gospel message. The Benbrook team also gifted New Testaments to each family who received a water filter!
We will be returning to this area in June of 2019 after the rainy season. If you would like to help us fund some more water wells and water filters for this area please drop us a note or click the donate button.