Friday, May 5, 2017

Lomas de Cocina & El Ocote 24 Cistern Project Inauguration

5th May 2017 - Guest report by: Nate Fultz, President Rotary Midday

Wow Wow Wow. What a perfect day; cool breeze, clouds, great food, & a variety program.  The community of Lomas de Cocina & El Ocote are celebrating the completion of their cistern project.

Campo roads are often not straight nor smooth. Eventually we arrived through the trees & fields to a small community. A very unique community in fact because the main street divides it between the 2 municipalities of San Miguel de Allende & Dolores Hidalgo. 

The members of these communities have been attending community meetings for many years & their participation & motivation has had many positive results.

Two communities have worked together on this project:

El Ocote participants working co-operatively  in 1 group of 7 families, constructed 7 cisterns.

Lomas de Cocina worked 3 groups, 2 of six families & one of 5 families to construct a total of 17 cisterns co-operatively.

They all worked together for 1 wk to train during the pilot then in 7 wks had completed a cistern in each home of each of the family groups.

After gathering to give thanks & for a song everyone went to the Cistern for the ribbon cutting. This was followed by spoken heartfelt thanks for the clean water now available. 

With the formalities over everyone moved to the gazebo which was large enough for the over 50 people to sit & the show started;  several songs sung including a great duet, break-dancing from a young teenage boy who learned his moves from YouTube videos, poetry reading, a few short speeches, a play put on by the mothers, & finally presentation of over 20 diplomas to the members of the community who had completed the 3 days of classes on the topic of water. 

A delicious lunch followed; carnitas (pork), lettuce & tomatoes salad & rice with warm tortillas.  Horchata & watermelon juice perfect to wash it all down. 

In attendance - 50+members of the communities of El Ocote & Lomas de Cocina, Araceli & Berna of UCCANG, Ceci, Juanela, Benigno & Abel of CEDESA. Nate & Lee of SMA Rotary Midday.

Report by: Nate Fultz, President Rotary Midday

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Rotary Achieves Close to Half Million Dollars investment in Clean Water

5th April 2017
Report By Lee Carter, Rotary San Miguel Midday

Rotary San Miguel Midday. in a cooperating partnership with Centro de Desarollo Agropecuario (CEDESA) & the families/communities involved, have built more than 1,000 rainwater catchment cisterns in 54 rural communities within the Independence Aquifer of central Mexico. 

That means 1,000+ families in & around San Miguel now have contamination free water for drinking & cooking for the rest of their lives & the lives of their grandchildren. 

Also achieved as a result of the ongoing investigative efforts of Dr Ortega (of National Autonomous University of Mexico - UNAM), & his findings of the contaminated ground water resulting from depleted Aquifer in San Miguel & the surrounding area. The region's aquifer is contaminated with concentrated excessive levels of arsenic & fluoride (often more than double the levels considered safe to consume, according to the World Health Organization). 

Arsenic & fluoride are not detectable by smell or taste. 1000's of people are unknowingly ingesting toxic water.

Since 2009 San Miguel Midday Rotary  has managed the investment of almost USD$500,000 to help alleviate the problem, & we are just getting started! 

In order to provide clean water to poor rural families, Midday Rotary developed a program whereby Rotary provides the funding & project management to build rainwater catchment cisterns; CEDESA, provides technical expertise, community development skills & training; & labor to construct the cisterns is provided by community members/recipients. 

Rainwater is collected from roofs in a 12,000 liter, ferro-cement tank next to a family home. During the summer rainy season, ample water can be collected & stored to serve a family of seven until the next rainy season. 

Because they are built above ground, the cisterns are easily accessed for maintenance. A three-day education workshop highlighting the importance of water in daily lives, conservation, & maintenance of the cisterns is an integral part of the program.

There is a need for many, many more cisterns; there are at least 10,000 more families in the region whose health & well-being will benefit from replacing contaminated well water with rainwater. 

Rotary, collaborating with CEDESA & the communities themselves, intends to continue to work with international Rotary clubs & The Rotary Foundation (TRF) to provide funding for as long as there is demand for the rainwater collection projects. 

100 more cisterns are scheduled for construction under the current global grant, a partnership with the Rotary Club of Simi Sunrise & D5240. The next grant to build an additional 200 cisterns is already being planned. We hope that we can continue to work with D5240 & its clubs will continue to be our international partners.

Midday Rotary’s cistern program reaches well beyond every human’s right to clean water for drinking  & cooking. The thoughtful implementation of this program has proven to be highly effective in organizing communities to collectively analyze their problems & seek solutions. 

Anyone familiar with life in Mexican rural communities, understands that cooperation rarely exists outside the immediate family. And yet more than 1,000 families have managed to work together building cisterns for & with each other. Participation is voluntary. One person from each family commits to 250 hours of meetings, training, & labor. 

Working in teams of six they build one cistern a week for all six families within their group. Personal investment & self-determination are key to the success & sustainability of the program. Communities stay organized by taking advantage of other CEDESA initiatives such as back yard gardening, bee keeping, holistic healing with medicinal plants, & the list goes on.

70% of the cistern program to date has been funded by grants from 23 International Rotary Clubs, 12 Rotary districts & TRF. The remaining 30% has come from strategic alliances with various foundations & the local municipal water board. Significant funding has come from the Lotus Foundation, San Miguel Community Foundation, & the Alberta Canada government. 

It is a great pleasure to see so many different & varied organizations commit to assist this program to support  campesinos as they work to solve their problems & collectively transform into independent & self-sustaining communities.

For more information, please contact Lee Carter, VP of Community Projects:

San Miguel Midday Rotarians at the 1000th Cistern Celebration 

Chela Martinez of CEDESA and Lee Carter of Rotary San Miguel Midday

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the 1000th Cistern Celebration

 agua dulce

Rainwater Harvesting in the Independence Aquifer

Lunch at Vivienda de Abajo – 1000th Cistern Celebration

By Lee Carter, Rotary San Miguel Midday

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

1000+ cisterns achieved!

1,101 Cisterns
54 Communities & Counting!!

NB 1000 cisterns completed - 101 more will be completed this spring...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Water Harvesting Education Program in Los Platanos

Over 30 participants attended the 3-day Water Harvesting Education Program  (February 20-23) in Los Platanos. The participants were from the communities of Los Platanos, Vergel de Guadalupe & San Cayetano in the municipality of San Luis de la Paz in the state of Guanajuato.

This was the first time Rotary Midday of San Miguel de Allende & CEDESA have visited this community; invited by volunteer community organizer Lucha Villafuerte & Father Zesati to help provide solutions to the contaminated water in the Independence Aquifer.

On day one of the program, between singing, dancing & eating, the participants learned how important water is to life & how to avoid contaminating water in the way they use water . Participants were astonished to learn that only 2% of water on Earth is suitable for human consumption & resolved to use it wisely. The ‘grandmothers’ in the group spoke to us about how they used water long ago which caused the group to reflect on the wastefulness of modern-day usage.

Day two was full of dynamic activities focused on how water in these communities became polluted & how this affected health.  The day started with participants creating a mural of their watershed & learning where their water comes from. They discovered there were three types of pollutants; chemical, mineral & biological, some of which they have control over & some they do not.

The promoters showed photos of adults & children with various stages of fluorosis & arsenic poisoning (fluoride & arsenic both contaminate local water supplies), which caused much discussion. A guest from a nearby community shared the problems her own community is experiencing; the tap water is highly contaminated & has caused several cases of cancer, kidney failure, & death. She reported the municipal government denies that the health problems are caused by city water. She is working with a committed group of 8 concerned citizens to help bring awareness of this serious issue. She heard about the work of Rotary and CEDESA & came to seek help and resources.

Day three of the program began with an original song & sketches about why we shouldn’t drink or cook with tap water. CEDESA & Rotary Midday member, Lee Carter, got in on the act with a humorous role play about a community rallying around clean water for their children.  The participants concluded that harvesting rainwater in cisterns was the best solution to their problem. They were enthusiastic about starting cistern building the following week.

At the conclusion of the 3-day prog. the participants agreed the problem of contaminated water is everyone’s problem & they will work together to build cisterns & to spread awareness in their communities.

Eighty-one cisterns are in the process of being built by communities in the San Luis de la Paz area.

Submitted by: Wendy Coulson (Rotary Peace Fellow/Curriculum Developer)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Celebration Salitrillo 10 December 2016

Today the Community of Salitrillo celebrated the completion of its cistern project.

Started in September, Salitrillo built eight cisterns with the pilot cistern being built at the home of Señora Cecilia Luna Rosas.  The project team was comprised of seven women and two men.  

Salitrillo is located west of San Miguel de Allende a short distance from the old road to Guanajuato.

The project begun with the project team attending a three-day training program which consisted of learning about the importance of the project and clean water, how to build a cistern and how to properly maintain the system in the future to ensure continued pure water.  The training program was conducted by a team from CEDESA.  The format of the three-day training program is a recent addition to the project.

The community then went on to jointly construct their cisterns.

Today's program consisted of comments on the project by each of the project team members, Lee Carter (project manager for the Rotary Club of San Miguel de Allende Mid-Day Club) & by Chela Martinez (of CEDESA, the founding partner of these ongoing water projects - CEDESA is a non-profit organization which conducts the training and provides technical support for the project).  

Members of the project team each received a Certificate of Completion from CEDESA and Lee.  Following a beautiful song by those in attendance, the ribbon cutting ceremony was conducted by Chela, Lee and Fred Collins, (President-elect, Rotary Club SMA Mid-day).

Following the official ceremony, a great meal of mole chicken and rice.  Cake was enjoyed by all especially the children.

The communities of Alonso Yanez, Presa Allende, Begoña de Progreso and Boca de la Cañada, were represented, many members of COCIRA joined in for the festivities, along with Mayra & Hilda, CEDESA promotors from Coralejos, 7 San Miguel Midday Rotarians, 2 visitors to SMA & a member of the Rotary Club of Somerville Tennessee.

Submitted by John Wallace (Rotary Club of Somerville Tennessee)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Celebration Charco de Araujo October 29, 2016

Today we celebrated the completion of 14 cisterns & 3 tinacos in the community of Charco de Araujo. 

This community is near San Diego de La Union & is the first community we have worked with this far north for several years. The area of eastern Dolores Hidalgo, San Diego de La Union & San Luis de la Paz has some of the most contaminated water in the Aquifer. It is for this reason that Rotary San Miguel Midday took the decision to expand its geographical service area with this grant for 319 water harvesting cisterns.

The rural grassroots organization, UCCANG, is working as a partner with CEDESA & Rotary in these projects. UCCANG was founded approx. 35 years ago to work to resolve the issue of lack of potable water resources in the northern part of Guanajuato. They are well organized & managed by a board of directors from those communities. UCCANG helps us identify communities that are requesting cisterns & play a critical role in the project in addition to choosing beneficiary families. 
They have the responsibility of inspecting & verifying all cisterns are in 100% working condition before we have our community celebrations. They are also going to make a formal review six months later to follow up on maintenance issues & recommendations for cistern water disinfection. This is critical to the long term success of these projects.

Seven UCCANG communities attended today’s event. The program for the day included testimonials from the beneficiary families describing their experience in self-constructing their cisterns in work groups each consisting of 7 families. All of the communities in attendance performed songs or dances that remembered their cultural traditions. A wonderful meal, including carnitas (!), capped off the day.

In attendance were:

Chela, Ceci, Benigno and Meche from CEDESA, UCCANG directors & members of the local communities.  Nate, Fred, Beatriz, Gary, Wendy (who developed the project’s education program), Lee, & two guests from Rotary Midday, Carla Cadena (a Jovenes Adelante Scholar who is doing social service in helping administer the project), Edgarkis Crisostomo, (a Rotary Foundation Water & Sanitation Cadre volunteer from the Dominican Republic - who conducted extensive interviews with CEDESA representatives) came with us also.

After the event we all went to La Colorada, down the road, to see their progress in their project.

Submitted by: Lee Carter

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Boca de la Cañada Inauguration 22 Oct 2016

Today we celebrated the completion of 21 cisterns in Boca de Canada. There were visitors from other COCIRA communities who wanted to share in the celebration: Presa Allende, Begona del Progresso, Salitrillo, Vivienda de Abajo, Corralejo, & Alonso Yanez. Mercedes Paramo & Abel Suartze were in attendance from CEDESA. Beatriz Salcedo, David Bossman, Catalina Rivera, Frank, & Lee Carter attended representing Rotary. All told there were about 70 persons in attendance. Following a program that included stories from the new cistern owners about the construction process; a poetry presentation by one of the community members, & a traditional dance performance by 12 of the beneficiaries, diplomas were awarded to all of those who successfully completed the education program.

The pilot cistern was built at the elementary school. The beneficiaries of the project agreed to teach an abbreviated form of the education program to some of the students of the school & they were awarded diplomas as well.

The community built two “models” of cisterns; the first demontrated a completed & connected cistern next to a home & the second demonstrated a cistern under construction. They also prepared a 4 ft x 8 ft picture board showing the people working in each stage of the cistern construction.

As always the program concluded with a delicious meal prepared by the community.

Report by Lee Carter