Imagine that you do not have a drop of water in your house and must find it somewhere for yourself and your children. Meet a woman who carried all her water to the house for 15 years!

She lives in a tiny pink house on the south side of the main road that runs through Roatan, in the village of Juticalpa.  She’s a single mother of 5 and has been living here for 24 years. For 15 years Mrs. Orbelina has been carrying water in a bucket on her head from the bottom of the valley below her home. This water has met their needs for personal hygiene, cooking, and drinking. The trip took about 25 minutes, and she stored the water in a big black plastic tank. Sometimes she had to make several trips a day. For two years, the water in the valley was too low due to drought, and she was forced to buy water from a water truck. And she collected rainwater in a small can at the end of a hose. 

Mrs Orbelina by the pipe that gives her water to her property. Gone are the days with walking up and down with a bucket on her head. Photo: Roger Bjoroy-Karlsen

But those days are over. A white water pipe that leads to her home shows that the water project managed by Rotary has worked. Mrs. Orbelina smiles when she tells us she can finally access clean water just outside her home.

Earlier a lot of the villagers drank from polluted creeks and got sick.

The water, pumped up from a well into a cistern on the high ground, has made life easier for them, and for Mrs Orbelina that makes her living by baking tortillas every day for the whole community in a clay oven that is 17 years old.

The water capacity is too low for the use of washing machines, so the old way is the only option. Photo: Roger Bjoroy-Karlsen

We ask Mrs. Orbelina how she washes the laundry. She points at a big tray with a washboard in it. 

Her eyes show strength. When you are a single mother of five, you cannot give up and start whining.  All this burden didn’t break her down, but she is really happy about the water that’s brought to her property.

“The water project makes our lives easier for me and my children” 

“The water project makes our lives easier for my children and me” 

The children are gathered and do their homework on a worn-out piece of veneer sheets beside the clay oven.

The children and friends are doing homework in perfect symphony and interaction. Photo: Roger Bjoroy-Karlsen

We leave the house on stairs made of car tires. We are visiting a culture that takes what’s available and makes something out of it!

Language is an ongoing barrier, so thanks to Rotarian Madison Zelaya for showing me this remarkable woman, and the translation!

Mrs Orbelina’s house. The blue bucket collects rain water. Photo: Roger Bjoroy-Karlsen

A more comprehensive article about the Rotary-driven water project in Juticalpa will be published later.

Written by: Roger Bjoroy-Karlsen
Edited by: Lauran Timlin