Guille and Jenny lead the way through San Miguel as we walk to the market to grab some tortillas and quesa for lunch!
There was no doubt about it when I met her for the first time, she is warm, inviting, open and confident. There is nothing ostentatious, onerous or effected in any way. Sol Garcia and I were visiting Isla Urbana and their work for the first time last November. I had heard much about Guille, a guiding force in the HCBC funded San Miguel project for Rainwater Harvesting Systems (RHS) being implemented by Isla Urbana. She had been the unstoppable force and lead into a community that badly needed assistance with water access. Spreading the word, rounding up community members, and creating a movement that was building force.
Driving home after a day of instalations the heavens opened and the rain poured down, typical for this time of year.
Water in this region is actually abundant, a rich rainy season from June to October annually provides around 820 mm – 32.3 inches, which compared to London, England, where they receive on average 650 millimeters (25.6 in) per annum, is a respectable amount of wet! So with buckets-worth falling from the skies, and none in their cisterns, which they need to pay to have filled by the city, makes collecting it from the rooftops a viable and economical way to go. It is difficult for many members of this community to pay for water to be delivered, and takes away much needed monies that could be well used for other practical uses.
Guille knew that her neighbours needed the RHS’s badly. HSBC was providing 9/10ths of the funding, and the stakeholders themselves needed to do the rest. They needed some convincing to commit, with Guille’s help, IU were able to begin the process. They installed at Guille’s home, and once word got out that her family were enjoying ever available water, for showers, cooking, laundry, gardening and more, it didn’t take long for others to follow suit! Sometimes they will help each other to come up with the moneyfor the instalment, also providing sweat equity, digging holes for cisterns etc.
Guille is a natural community leader, setting an example of really caring for the people she sees on a daily basis. When tornados struck the valley, she fought tirelessly to get emergency assistance from the regional governement, people needed tarps, food and water, Guille didn’t stop until the trucks dropped off emergency supplies. People trust her and when there is a community issue, they will come to talk with Guille.
On my last afternoon in San Miguel, Jenny White and myself were off to visit another housewife, we heard there was a problem, a disagreement with a neighbor over a property line. When we arrived I was not surprised to find Guille, quietly talking about the problem, trying to find a solution that would work for all. For Guille family and community are everything, it is a way of life.
2. Jenny and Guille looking at project management
3. Guille’s grandaughter arrives home from shcool
4. Guille talks about her community involvement
5. In the back yard at a neighbor’s house, always at the heart of the situation
6. LIke many Mexicans, Guille runs a small Tiendo (store) from the front of her property
7. Goofy Girls – Guille’s grandaughter with a friend!
8. Sol Garcia of Project X Impact, my running partner on many of my projects interviews Guille as I document.