This February, Pennywise Executive Director, Laura Subin, visited Agua Para La Vida (APLV) in Rio Blanco, Nicaragua. Rio Blanco is located among the beautiful mountains and cloud forests of northern Nicaragua. The city is also on the edge of the country’s most rural communities- less than half of which have access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Laura began her visit at the APLV offices where she met with staff and heard about the organization directly from those leading its work. Next she toured APLV’s Escuela Tecnica de Agua Potable (ETAP). The technical school offers a unique opportunity for high achieving, young Nicaraguans from underserved, rural communities. ETAP students are trained in all of the technical aspects of designing, installing, operating and maintaining gravity based water systems. After completing the two-year program, which is paid for by APLV, they have highly marketable skills and will be eligible for employment that can help lift their families out of poverty.
Laura got the chance to meet the current students and tour the school’s residential facilities. Through them, she saw first hand how ETAP is building the future of APLV's work. Together with APLV staff and her family, Laura spent the next day visiting one of the communities in which APLV has a well-established project underway. She met with the “Community Action Committee,” community members that are running the water system during the second phase of the project, and they showed her the components of their water system and explained how it works. The day also included a visit to a local primary school where APLV staff’s taught about clean water and sanitation practices through songs, movement and lots of good humor.
The visit provided Laura with a full picture of how critical APLV’s work is, how well they do what they do and how their approach reflects Pennywise Priorities. Laura is grateful to all of her hosts in the Rio Blanco community. She says about the trip, “I feel especially lucky that my children got to share in this experience and that they can begin to understand how lucky they are not to have to worry about access to clean water.”