Lunch at the Comedor
As a line of hungry people forms outside of the comedor, Sandra puts the finishing touches on today’s meal. She hoists a blue five-gallon bottle – filled to the brim with water – onto the counter and prepares a large pitcher of horchata, a popular drink made with water, rice powder, and cinnamon.
Now she is ready and welcomes her faithful customers inside.
It’s lunchtime in Aldea Chayén, Guatemala and Sandra’s comedor (best translated to “eatery”) is where many in the community gather for a meal during the day. This is no fast food restaurant where food is made to order. At comedores, one or two options are prepared in large batches and then dished out to customers as they arrive.
To maintain competitive prices and attract customers, Sandra has to do everything she can to reduce costs. Up until recently, this meant pre-boiling all the water used for cooking because she couldn’t afford to purchase treated water. While it kept the water relatively safe from pathogens, boiling generated a lot of smoke and soot, consumed a lot of firewood, and left sediments in the water.
When a local church partnered with Healing Waters International to launch a water project earlier this year, everything changed – not just for Sandra, but for the entire community.
Living Out the Mission
The church, La Iglesia Centroamericana Incensario de Oro, provides safe water to the Aldea Chayén community, making it accessible and affordable to people like Sandra for the first time. There are seven additional depots, including Sandra’s comedor, throughout the area that purchase water from the church each week and resell it to their patrons. Further, two men working as water distributors, are driving water into neighboring townships and delivering it door-to-door.
Not only can more people than ever before afford and access safe water, the project is also creating jobs and helping sustain other local businesses.
More than 100 children are actively participating in Biblically-based health and hygiene classes too. Each week, kids between the ages of 3-11 gather at the church to learn important healthy habits that will change behaviors for the better and impact generations to come.
Project leaders are actively living out the mission statement of Healing Waters International, which is to bring physical, social, and spiritual transformation to impoverished communities. And it’s only just beginning!
Commitment to Safe Water
Today Sandra is the church’s best customer.
Now that she uses only treated water for meals and drinks, she purchases more than 50 gallons of water from the church each week. Further, she has shown her commitment to safe water by establishing her comedor as a depot and reselling additional bottles of water to her customers when they stop in for a bite to eat.
By not having to boil gallons of water for meal preparation each week, Sandra is saving time, keeping prices low, and reducing smoke generation. Most importantly, she now proudly serves her customers safe and delicious meals and beverages.
So with each meal Sandra’s friends and neighbors eat at her comedor, they’re getting a small taste of the change that, thanks to La Iglesia Centroamericana Incensario de Oro, is transforming their community from the inside out.
“I’m very thankful to God for this project that’s come to Aldea Chayén. I have a small comedor and I use the water from the project. Now I’m saving money on firewood and we’re not generating as much smoke. The water is very high quality too. My whole family is really happy about the project. Also having this water helps everyone stay healthy—especially the kids.”
— Sandra, comedor owner in Aldea Chayén, Guatemala