By: Emily Ricketts ~ Mom, Licensed Massage Therapist, Humanitarian, Pure Water for the World Volunteer
Words cannot express the AMAZINGLY AWESOME adventure I had working beside the Pure Water for the World team, my fellow volunteers and the people of Honduras last week; helping bring safe, clean water to the villages and schools of Trojes.
It was the most physically challenging and one of the most emotional and meaningful experiences of my life! I honestly did not expect the impact that it would have on me until I was there, encountering it all first hand.
So many little things, that are second nature to us, we take for granted… functional toilets (that we dispose tissue into), clean water to brush our teeth, hygiene knowledge and products, medication and medical facilities readily available and safe drinking water that is filtered to protect us from bacteria and parasites.
The work that PWW is doing to help improve and save lives is extremely inspiring, and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to participate. The people of Trojes are so appreciative; welcoming us into their homes, schools and lives; accepting our efforts to help them, while wanting to repay us with their only possessions… bananas, watermelon, fruits, eggs, etc.
Communication was a challenge for me but a smile is universal and mine was always reciprocated with one in return. The words “uno photo” also allowed me to have a connection because I would take a picture and then show it to them, which always got a happy reaction. The simple joyful feeling that exuded each and every adult and child was humbling, knowing that they have so little but are still so grateful.
In total, 19 volunteers came together from across the US. While we were there, as a team, we successfully:
•Installed water filters in 35 homes (impacting 210 people)
•Built latrines and hand washing stations at 2 schools (impacting 42 children)
•Distributed 350 de-worming pills to community members
•Handed out 200 hygiene kits to families and the local clinic
Honduras is a beautiful country with some of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen. I am proud that not only are we helping the people live longer, more prosperous lives but also improving the quality of their home.
MY MOM STORY:
At 21 years old, I unexpectedly became pregnant with my daughter. Not only was I unprepared to be a mother, but I also discovered that she was “high risk” and would be born with serious malformations that would require her to have surgery at birth.
Against the advice of the doctors, I chose to continue the pregnancy and take my chances with her. She was delivered 5 weeks before her due date, by cesarean, survived a successful surgery and recovered in the NICU for a month before I was able to bring her home.
Times were tough. I was young, immature and not ready to be a wife or a mother, but this was the hand I was dealt, so I did what I could to make the best of it at that time.
Five years later, my husband and I decided to divorce. We each had equal time with our daughter, but I took on all responsibilities for myself on my own. I worked two jobs and struggled to make ends meet.
At 29 years old, I decided to enroll in massage therapy school. Over the next 10 years I successfully built my own business, working as an independent contractor for chiropractors, building a private clientele, and becoming the regular in-house massage therapist at a Toyota dealership.
In 2009, at Toyota, I met Eric Johnson, who introduced me to Pure Water for the World. Eric was starting to get involved with volunteering for Pure Water and taking trips to Honduras. Each time he would go, he would return telling me what an incredible experience the trip was, what an impact the organization was having on the people there, and encouraging me to go. My response was always the same: “I have a daughter, I don’t have the money, I can’t take the time off of work.”
After six years of hearing the stories, seeing the pictures and having the desire to help out, I finally took the plunge and decided to take the trip.
My daughter is now 19 years old. She is just finishing her first year at the university as a Biomedical student, studying veterinary and working a part-time job. She is a mature, responsible, and highly intelligent young adult.
Her independence finally made me feel comfortable enough to take the trip, so I enrolled in the April 2018 trip to Trojes, Honduras. I did a fundraiser to help with the costs and continued to save as I could to help offset the time I would be taking away from work.
Initially I was a bit nervous. I had never gone out of the country before, nevertheless to a third world country. I didn’t know what to expect, but I went with an open mind and a full heart. After completing the trip, I can confidently say that, besides giving my daughter life 20 years ago, this has been one of the best decisions of my life.
The work that Pure Water for the World is doing to help improve the quality of lives and communities is extremely inspiring. The people of Trojes are grateful, welcoming us in to their homes and schools, offering to repay us with their only possessions when they have so little to give.
I also love how close the families are and how the communities come together to help each other. It is humbling to experience this way of living and allows me to reflect on my life and past.
I now appreciate the hand I was dealt. I am grateful that my daughter was given a chance of life, when so many children in the world are not as fortunate. The struggles I have endured seem minute in perspective, and I know that I am very blessed to have so much.
My goal now is to continue spreading the word of PWW’s purpose, return to Honduras as soon as I can, and hopefully (when school permits) bring my daughter to show her to always be kind, appreciative, and the importance of giving yourself through the service of others.
I am extremely grateful for Eric’s encouragement to take the plunge and “just go”, for all of the PWW staff (in the US and Honduras) for making this project a priority, for my family & friends who very generously donated to make this trip possible for me, and to my fellow volunteers….we arrived as strangers, but we left as lifelong friends. The week would not have been the same without you!