On June 18, members of the Rotary Club of Athens, Ohio and the Rotary Club of Loja, Ecuador joined the villagers of Bellamaria, Ecuador along with faculty and students from Ohio University (OHIO) and the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador (PUCE) in a celebration to dedicate the new Bellamaria Potable Water System.  The new water system was funded through a $43,000 Rotary Global Grant and was made possible through the hard work of 35 village families over the course of a year.
L to R: Diego Rodriguez, President Elect, (Loja); Daniel Valdivieso Arias, President, (Loja); Dave Diggle, (Athens); Mario J. Grijalva, President, (Athens); Leonardo Burneo, (Loja).
 
The Rotary Club of Athens spearheaded the Global Grant request.  The Athens Club was joined by local clubs in Nelsonville and Belpre, Ohio along with District 6690 of Central and Southeast Ohio.  In Ecuador, the Rotary Club of Loja and District 4400 supported the project.  PUCE was the in-country partner who provided engineering expertise, technical advice, and overall project supervision.
 
Villagers of Bellamaria, Ecuador with staff and students of the PUCE and OHIO.
 
In order to complete this water project, each of the 35 families served invested 75 days of labor to install 8 kilometers (5 miles) of main water line from a freshwater spring high in the Andes Mountains to the local water purification plant.  Another 8.6 kilometers (5.3 miles) of distribution waterline connected the plant to the homes of the villagers as well as the local school in the village center.  The area is mountainous requiring the construction of 590 m (1830 ft) of suspended pipelines crossing over eight ravines in areas where it was not possible to bury the pipelines underground.
L to R: Daniel Valdivieso Arias, President, (Loja); Diego Rodriguez, President Elect, (Loja); Dave Diggle, (Athens); Leonardo Burneo, (Loja); Mario J Grijalva, President, (Athens).
 
Ohio University faculty and students have been working in southern Ecuador over the past 14 years in a partnership with PUCE.  Since its inception, more than 200 students have traveled to Ecuador to participate in activities promoted through the Healthy Living Initiative (HLI) sponsored by PUCE and OHIO.  The students work with community members in interventions focused on improving living conditions for underserved populations in the region, including the Bellamaria water project and other water systems. 
 
Under HLI, comprehensive strategies are being developed for sustainable control of Chagas disease, a deadly tropical disease which painstakingly kills its victims over 10 to 20 years.  Chagas disease causes long-term heart and other chronic conditions as its action slowly destroys the muscle and cell structure surrounding the nervous, cardiac and digestive systems.  During the three-day visit to the region, three new Chagas-free homes were dedicated along the with Bellamaria water project.
 
Thanks to Dave Diggle for sending in this story for posting.  The story was put together by Project Leader, Mario Grijalva, and Dave Diggle and has been submitted for publication in The Rotarian magazine.  The photos were taken by Rich-Joseph Facun, Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.