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A Business in Bathrooms

It’s easy to take bathrooms for granted. But nearly 1 in 2 people in the world don’t have access to a decent toilet. Without bathrooms, families lack dignity and risk getting sick from waterborne diseases.

Person standing in doorway

At Water For People, we believe the best way to get families access to better bathrooms is through sanitation businesses. We make sure families have affordable toilet options, access to contractors who can build bathrooms, and safe ways to take care of waste.

Enter Avelino Reynoso – a skilled contractor, entrepreneur, and champion of bathrooms in Guatemala. 

When Avelino was six years old, his father passed away. By eight, he was working to support his family. He started picking blackberries and shining shoes, willing to take on any job to help earn money. By the time he was 15, Avelino was old enough to start a career in construction.

"To this day, I work in construction," Avelino shares. "But then I began to see that there was a need to have bathrooms." 

The local Water For People team invited Avelino to join training sessions focused on bathroom construction. Once he started learning about sanitation, his excitement sparked. This is how he would focus his construction business. 

"I was interested in learning about it because I think I am the only one who knows about building bathrooms in my community. Nobody here is really interested in learning about that issue. They don’t have the motivation. But I started building more bathrooms and toilets," Avelino recounts. 

Large green hill with small wooden buildings
Open door to bathroom and toilet.
Small dog jumping

Avelino lives in one of the 86 communities within the district of Santa Cruz del Quiché. While 89% of the households in the district have a basic, intermediate, or high level of sanitation service, only 44% of the households have a high level.*

For Avelino, it was an opportunity for his business, but it was also about improving the health of his community. Water For People continued to support Avelino through training, from waste treatment to how to market and grow his business. 

Man and two women, smiling

Today, Avelino works with his customers to ensure they understand the importance of bathrooms. He also connects them with microcredit loans to support the hardware purchases, ensures the waste will be properly contained and treated, and even demonstrates creativity through tilework and fixtures. If the clients have questions, he happily shows them his own bathroom. "I’m proud to not only be a mason and know about sanitation but to have my own bathroom in the house."

For Avelino, his wife, and daughter, an improved bathroom in their home is not something they take for granted. "There are lots of benefits now. We just go out of the bedroom and into the bathroom; it takes two seconds. Before, our bathroom was a cesspool," Avelino remembers. "If it rained, we got soaked, and there would be a lot of mud."

Avelino wants to expand his business with a whole team of employees supporting him. Given his passion, drive, and commitment to safe sanitation, there’s no doubt Avelino’s dream will come true. 

*From 2021 Water For People monitoring data. Levels of service are calculated through indicators such as if a household has access to a sanitation facility, if the infrastructure is in a hygienic condition, and if households practice safe sludge management.