The Buen Samaritano community in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, resides on the edge of one of Central America's largest garbage dumps. Its current water contains high amounts of chemicals, feces, parasites and other severe pollutants. Through the generosity of Bill Martin and many International Samaritan donors, clean water will transform the community. Construction of the 20,000-gallon tank began in 2022 and will be finished this summer, piping water to each of the 400 homes.
Former University of Michigan Athletic Director Gives $100,000 Gift for Honduran Water System
Clean water to flow to 2,000 people in the Tegucigalpa garbage dump community.
ANN ARBOR, Mich., Feb. 9, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Bill Martin, entrepreneur, business leader, philanthropist, and the University of Michigan's athletic director from 2000-2010, made a $100,000 gift to International Samaritan.
International Samaritan (IntSam), an international nonprofit, is dedicated to raising the living standards of those who live and work in garbage dump communities. "For people living in the United States, who can typically turn on the faucet and get fresh water, it's difficult to imagine that 2,000 people live near the garbage dump in Tegucigalpa without access to clean water," said Martin. "This gift of water honors Dr. Kenneth Coleman for his commitment to partnership and improving the world." Coleman is the husband of the former University of Michigan President, Dr. Mary Sue Coleman.
International Samaritan began accompanying the people of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, in 2008. The Buen Samaritano community resides on the edge of one of Central America's largest dumps. Water is collected in rain catchers or transported and stored in used and unsanitary bottles. The IntSam team in Honduras studied the community's water and found that it contains high amounts of chemicals, feces, parasites and other severe pollutants.
Construction of the 20,000-gallon tank began in 2022. In addition to Martin's gift, the project was supported by the generosity of many donors who raised $150,000 in the organization's IntSam Global 5K run, including student scholars International Samaritan supports in Tegucigalpa. Water from the tank will be piped to each of the 400 homes. Construction is expected to be completed in early summer.
There are many risks to living in a garbage dump community. Significantly, contaminated water and a lack of basic sanitation undermine efforts to end poverty and disease and are leading causes of child mortality.
"Water is life. It is a basic human necessity," said International Samaritan President Mike Tenbusch. "On behalf of the Buen Samaritano community, we are deeply grateful for Bill Martin's generosity and for recognizing Dr. Kenneth Coleman. The water tower's message, 'Con gratitud a Dr. Ken Coleman. ¡Vamos Azul!' gives rich meaning to the rallying cry—Go Blue! Blue as in crystal clear and life-giving water for the men, women, and children living in Honduras near the dump. Mr. Martin's gift, in addition to the money raised by donors, students, churches, and runners worldwide, will dramatically transform the health and future of this community."
Clean water is an aspect of the organization's health and wellness pillar. Core to IntSam is its successful scholar program. Scholarships follow students from kindergarten through college or trade school. In addition to tuition, scholarships cover clothing, books, and transportation, as well as provide food and other family support when needed so that children don't feel pressured to leave school to work. This school year, IntSam is providing scholarships to 55 students from the community surrounding the dumpsite in Tegucigalpa.
Ronia Romero, IntSam's leader in Tegucigalpa, was the driving force behind this project. "We did not have $250,000 in the budget to get this done," said Tenbusch, "but Ronia was relentless in advocating for her community's need. Our board made this effort a goal because of the transformation they saw in bringing water to our partner community in Ethiopia in 2021. And because Ronia was such an ardent advocate for doing the same for the Buen Samaritano community."
About International Samaritan
Founded in 1994 and located in Ann Arbor, Mich., International Samaritan's mission is to walk hand-in-hand with people in communities surrounding the garbage dumps of developing nations to help them break out of poverty. It provides holistic scholarships for students from kindergarten through college, supporting more than 800 scholars in Central America, the Caribbean and Africa. To learn more, visit intsam.org.
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