Doña Raquel lives in the community of Lapalén in the district of Cascas, Peru. In 2009 she and her fellow community members began discussions with the local government in hopes of getting access to drinking water, but with little movement.
At that time, households were consuming water from irrigation ditches and ponds, and Doña Raquel’s husband and others contracted water-born illnesses. But when Doña Raquel’s husband and her neighbor Sessi Calvanapón heard that a nearby town was hosting a meeting with an NGO and the municipal government to talk about constructing a new water system, they decided to attend to see if they could get help, too.
The NGO was Water For People, and the community of Lapalén got its wish. Water For People collaborated with the local government and the residents to implement a new system. At first, many people did not really believe it was going to happen, based on disappointing previous experiences, but as the construction materials began to arrive, everyone said “Finally our dreams have come true!” Community members organized groups to contribute labor each day, working in the rocky foothills, driven by the promise of access to clean water. The women helped to supervise the men to ensure they met construction standards; at first this was a challenge, but ultimately the women gained respect for their leadership and dedication to accuracy.