Summer 2011 ADRA Works

Twelve men made their way down the steep mountainside. It was before dawn, and they were already well on their way to the capital city of Quito in the beautiful country of Ecuador. They were on a mission to meet with the ADRA country director, Ignacio Goya.

The objective was simple: water.

These men were elders in a remote village in the Andes. They lived off the land and maintained a simple lifestyle. They wore cloaks of bold colors made from warm wool they had grown themselves. Their matching hats completed their traditional attire, and their rubber boots alone hinted at modernity.

After arriving in Quito, they walked from the bus stop into the busy city, where the ADRA Ecuador office is located. Realizing how far they had come, Ignacio knew that a short visit would not do. He had his assistant cancel all of his appointments for the day and focused on what these men had come to communicate.

They explained that a few years previous, ADRA had installed a water system in their small village. It had served them well, and they were ever so grateful. However, over time, families from the surrounding area had moved to their village so that they too could access the precious supply of water. Now they had more people than they could serve, and their water supply was overtaxed, leaving an insufficient supply for the needs of the village.

The elders had come to request that ADRA return to their village and install an even larger water system to accommodate their expanded community. The country director listened to them with keen attention, and when the elders had finished presenting their need, he thought about what they had said.

Mr. Goya saw their predicament, but he also realized that by adding a larger water tank and system, ADRA would just be perpetuating their existing problem.

He drew up a proposal and presented it to them. He explained the certainty that if the water system was enhanced, it would draw more families to their village, which not only would cause this problem to recur, but also would impact the dynamics of the village, the size of the school, and their access to income and food.

He said, "What you need is not a new water system, but a new system of management." He explained how by creating an access schedule every family in the village would be able to receive the water they needed without overtaxing the water supply.

It was genius. Not only would the need be met, but no resources would be lost. It was a proposal to not do something, but rather implement a new way of thinking. Best of all, they would be the ones making the change and taking charge of their situation. By the management of resources, the need was met and a new concept was born.

A later assessment confirmed the success of this endeavor and fueled the desire to educate and equip rather than provide. The village elders were thrilled, and together the village grew in understanding and confidence.

In ADRA's world, we are not always there to do-we are in places of need to create just and positive change that starts with a new way of thinking and sinks to the core of a community. It is empowering, not just because change is realized, but also because that change is being made by the people who are seeking it. ADRA is proud to be a part of the journey of education and empowerment. ADRA is proud to be a driving force that can take a backseat and simply equip.

Read more about ADRA's efforts around the world, and discover how your support has helped bring aid to South America.