Local non-profit sending water filters to storm-battered Honduras

Hondurans, who were displaced by Hurricane Eta which made landfall in Central America in early November, received a meal. (Photo Special to The Record)

Ursuline Sister of Mount St. Joseph Larraine Lauter — co-founder of the non-profit Water With Blessings — said the devastation in Honduras caused by last month’s Hurricanes Eta and Iota, only two weeks apart, has left her feeling “heartsick.”

“It looks like the first time I ever went to Honduras a year after Hurricane Mitch,” which devastated the small Central American country in 1998, she said in a recent interview. “They will need assistance for months and months.”

Water With Blessings (WWB) is working to get water filtration systems to mothers in Honduras as the country deals with death, widespread flooding and displaced families.

The storms, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, are a setback to a country where access to clean water has been an ongoing challenge.

WWB has been serving in Honduras for 12 years, bringing water filters to women where clean drinking water is scarce. Oftentimes, the death toll will rise following a natural disaster because of a lack of clean water, Sister Lauter said. “With COVID-19 you’re dealing with that much more bodily weakness.”

The Louisville-based Water with Blessings, founded 13 years ago, trains women — called Water Women — in communities without access to safe drinking water to use donated Sawyer PointOne water filtration systems.

WWB aims to send 5,000 filtration systems to Honduras in the coming months. Most of those filters have been donated already, but the non-profit is still in need of financial donations to support the Honduran team distributing filters and training women to use them.

The team in Honduras is expected to spend the next few months distributing between 300 and 450 filters per week.

A new wave of flooding caused by Hurricane Iota further complicates the non-profit’s work, said Sister Lauter.

People wade through floodwaters in La Lima, Honduras, Nov. 5, 2020, in rain-heavy remains of Hurricane Eta. (CNS photo/Jorge Cabrera, Reuters)

“There are places you can’t get to,” she said, noting that members of the team will go wherever they can travel. Donations will help transport them to affected areas. Normally they would take  public transportation, but because of the pandemic, they are using private transportation, Sister Lauter noted. Donations will also be used to provide food and a place for team members to stay while working in the field.

Catholic News Service reported Nov. 19 that Honduran officials estimate around 500,000 people have been affected by flooding caused by Iota. Hurricane Eta affected 1.7 million people according to a Nov. 9 report from CNS.

WWB is also collaborating with Food for the Poor, an organization serving thousands of displaced people packed into shelters in San Pedro Sula — Honduras’ largest city hit particularly hard by the storms.

Through Food for the Poor, WWB aims to get about 30 large filtration systems into these shelters, said Sister Lauter.  Although, even getting the filters into the country is proving to be a challenge. The airport in San Pedro Sula, where the filtration systems would normally be flown, is under water. The shipments are being re-routed to neighboring El Salvador, she said.

The Honduran people need clean water and prayers now more than ever, said Sister Lauter.

“People are living under the underpass of bridges and wherever they can find shelter, she said. “They are in desperate need of clean water, but prayers as well and people can do both.”

WWB is now using a tool to show donors how their dollars are used. Donors receive information about the people they’ve helped, such as a picture of the woman, her name and the size of her family. This has created opportunities for prayer partnership, she noted.

The women who receive filters from Water With Blessings make a covenant with God to share their filter with three other families, about 16 to 20 people, added Sister Lauter. In times of disaster, Sister Lauter said a Water Woman will likely serve up to 100 other individuals per day.

For more information or to make a donation, visit https://waterwithblessings.org/donate/ or contact Sister Lauter at 502-749-5492 or info@waterwithblessings.org.

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