Community members in the Dominican Republic purchase clean water from a nearby evangelical church.
#UMC GivingTuesday Donations Make Impact in the Dominican Republic
By Judith Santiago*
In the Dominican Republic, sharing the gospel also means helping communities gain access to clean water. An estimated two million people in the Dominican Republic struggle to find affordable clean water.
Last year, thanks to generous UMC #GivingTuesday donations made to Water@Work: Community-Based Sustainable Water Plants, Advance #3021988, local pastors and missionaries found a viable means of sharing the message of living water while also addressing daily needs by installing community-based water purification systems in impoverished communities.
These women in San Joaquin were trained used clean water to produce handmade liquid soap, cleaning products, and shampoos. Photo courtesy of Water@Work
Working with its sister organization, Fundación Water Work (FWW), Water@Work invests in and constructs sustainable Community Water Plants (CWP). The local church maintains the CWP, which delivers community-wide clean water that exceeds standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency and World Health Organization.
In exchange for the CWP, the local church contractually agrees to sell the clean water at a heavily discounted rate, usually 50–75 percent less than commercially available water. The church sets aside a designated amount from the proceeds for future maintenance and repairs and to support ministry or community projects. Through this process, the local church has the opportunity to develop new micro-business opportunities for community members.
One example is a young man named Roberto who is 19 years old and lives with his mother and three younger brothers. He was hired by a local pastor to run the church’s CWP. Three years ago, however, Roberto lost his father to illness. Thrust into the position being the head of the household, Roberto has relied on income from his job at the CWP to care for his mother and brothers’ most basic needs.
Women are also benefitting from small, water-related businesses. Before the CWP was installed in San Joaquin, many of the women church members were unemployed and because of this, family disputes and divisions ensued. But now, the women are being trained to use the clean water to produce handmade liquid soap, cleaning products, and shampoos to sell locally.
Supporting ongoing physical and spiritual needs
Roberto relied on his job with the community water plant to care for his family’s needs after his father passed away. Photo courtesy of Water@Work
Water@Work and FWW provides ongoing community support and presence through mentoring, water testing, reporting, government compliance, and ongoing maintenance of community-wide purification equipment. They also work with the national government in obtaining full support of community water plants in normally ignored and forgotten communities.
The UMC #GivingTuesday donations made last year also supported water plant construction efforts in the community of Loma Al Medio, and compliance-related plant equipment in several other communities.
Once a communities’ physical needs are met, Water@Work’s Living Water Program, provides community members with the spiritual water they need. They receive materials such as audio Bibles and support for worship celebrations that carry the message of Jesus Christ.
Thousands of people now go to a church each day to receive their “living water,” sustainable, clean water, and the wonderful news of Jesus.
Watch this video to learn more about Water@Work’s ministry.
UMC #GivingTuesday is Dec. 1
On Dec. 1, United Methodists will once again come together to support the work of Advance projects and missionaries on UMC #GivingTuesday. And once again, every gift made online through The Advance at www.umcmission.org/give on Dec. 1, 2015 will be matched up to $1 milion.**
Click here for resources.
*Judith Santiago is the Editorial and Content Coordinator for Global Ministries.
** Global Ministries will allocate matching funds dollar for dollar up to the first $1 million in gifts to Advance projects received online on Dec. 1, 2015, between 12:00 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. CT. A maximum of $2,500 per individual gift to a project will be dispersed as matching funds. A project may receive a maximum of $25,000 in matching funds.