As we have expanded our model in the middle Moche valley, we have had the privilege to begin new relationships with communities in the area. Five years ago, leaders from Jesus Maria approached us during our program with their neighbor, Las Cocas. They were interested in establishing a relationship. So we organized a few community meetings and worked with them to establish priorities. This year will mark our third program with the community of Jesus Maria Alta. They are interested in improving their water and sanitation systems, improving trash collection and waste disposal and preservation of the amazing 2,200 year old mud brick pyramid Huaca Menocucho.
Jesus Maria Alta is a community of about 200 members with more than fifty percent are working full or part-time as farmers. Throughout the past two years we have formed strong relationships with the community. While community relationships provide a lot of insight on specific problems, we felt it necessary to go house to house to privately talk with community members and then hold community workshops on identifying their community needs. After completing the house to house census of 37 houses in October 2016 we were sure the individual and community needs lined up. This year’s project will focus on the top priorities that have been identified as a drainage system and public and private bathrooms. Focusing on constructing private latrines will provide some relief of the need of a drainage system because the VIP Latrines store and decompose solid and liquid waste in a manner that doesn’t contaminate the water system or create odors. Building VIP latrines will not only improve the health of the community through preventing water contamination, but will also help prevent further destruction of the archeological site due to defecation.
We are additionally looking to expand on the 11 cocinas mejoradas, or better cooking stoves, that we built in 2015. The cocincas mejoradas are very important for the community because they provide a solution to the smoke-filled rooms with open fire that can cause asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Our 3 year goal is that every family in Jesus Maria will have a cocina mejorada and a private latrine.