UMass Boston Students Spend Spring Break in Peru

Office of Communications | March 09, 2012
Picture of Peruvian girl carrying buckets.

Students to Construct Aqueduct for Village Without Running Water

Twelve University of Massachusetts Boston students left Friday for Peru, where they will be spending their spring break constructing a water system in Santa Rosa de Huacaria, a small village of 160 located in the Andes Mountains that has never had running water.

The Beacons Voyages for Service (BVS) program, part of the Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement, gives students the chance to take part in service trips outside of Boston.

Catriona Grant, a senior nursing major from Duxbury, is the student leader for the Peru trip. Grant, who led a trip to the Dominican Republic last year through the BVS program, said she was looking for an opportunity to make a direct impact on a community. After Jennifer Goode, the office administrator for the Office of International and Transnational Affairs and the staff advisor for the trip, told Grant about the work of a clean water consulting agency run by one of Goode’s former Peace Corps colleagues, Grant knew she had found that opportunity.

According to a 2012 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), 21 percent of the Peruvian population who didn’t have access to safe drinking water in 1990 now have that access, but Grant says there is still work to be done.

“Of the almost 29 million people living in Peru, approximately 5.3 million people don't have access to safe water and 9.2 million don't have access to improved sanitation services,” Grant says. “The opportunity to reduce that number, even if just slightly, is what truly drew me to spend my spring break in Peru.”

According to WHO and UNICEF, more than 3,000 children worldwide die each day from diarrhoeal diseases. Of these deaths, the organizations say 88 percent are due to poor drinking water, lack of sanitation, and poor hygiene, and that improved access to water is key to improving those numbers.

Grant says the UMass Boston students will be working with a project manager and villagers from Santa Rosa de Huacaria to construct drainage canals and learn the craft of palm thatching as they build a roof over shower and toilet facilities.

“I hope to gain a further appreciation for the many things that the majority of us Americans take for granted on a daily basis, with one of those things being our incessant access to clean running water,” Grant says. “I hope to learn from the local people of Santa Rosa de Huacaria and take life-long memories home with me to Boston.”

The other student participants include Christie Volkernick, Izzy Pullido, Evita Gonzalez, Franci DaLuz, Kerri Babbitt, Caleb Nelson, Conor Curran-Cross, Suzy Cosgrove, Liz Kernan, and Laura Benitez.

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Comments (1)

Posted by Joane Guillet | March 15, 2012 - 2:50 p.m.

You go Catriona and the rest of the BVS Peru Team!!!

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