Splashing and babbling are the soothing sounds made by the Chira River, which runs alongside the town of Tamarindo in Peru. But the river’s soothing sounds mask a sobering truth: Its water is extremely contaminated, dangerous for human consumption. When the local church in Tamarindo partnered with Compassion to launch a child development center, 270 local children in need were registered. But as the program got underway, pastor Vicente Sernaqué noticed something wrong. “The children were weak, thin, didn’t eat and were lethargic,” he says.
The problem was that they and their families were consuming water from the Chira River. As a result, the children suffered from intestinal parasites, which can cause diarrhea, nausea, dehydration, stomach cramps, fatigue and weight loss. Determined to do something about this situation, the church accessed funding from Compassion’s Critical Interventions (CIV) Program to construct a water treatment facility on its premises. Now, Pastor Sernaqué says that during program activities, “The children drink purified water, their food is cooked with the water and clean water is used for all other needs.” Each child registered at the Compassion center has been given two plastic water jugs for their home, and families receive 10 gallons [40 liters] of water free of charge each month. The rest of the community can also access this benefit, paying an affordable US $1.19 for one jug of water. Pastor Sernaqué is especially excited that selling water to the community provides his church the opportunity to share about God’s love and provision. Although the church’s water purification system is new, already the incidence of intestinal parasites among the children has been reduced by half. “The children are now good,” says Pastor Sernaqué. In fact, Tamarindo families are now receiving two kinds of water for a brighter future: potable water for their physical health and the good news of Christ, the Living Water, for their spiritual health.