For far too long, global development has been dictated by those who believe that economically deprived communities are simply incapable. We argue the contrary. The Las Mercedes Project is an international nonprofit organization that collaborates with communities in Latin America to assist them in developing “from within.” Our mission is to collaborate with marginalized communities, such as the community of Las Mercedes in Ecuador, to help them implement their vision of development and progress. In other words, we don’t work “in” the community but “with” the community as a fellow collaborator to facilitate sustainable community development.
In Las Mercedes, the people are economically poor but they possess incredible intelligence, an unparalleled work ethic, and most important, hope for the future. We believe that residents can direct community resources better than any outside organization or governmental agency. Therefore, our role as a nonprofit is to build opportunities for residents to unleash their collective capabilities by providing training, resources, and skills to help community members implement their solutions to community problems in a manner that reflects their culture, values, and diverse perspectives.
This year, we will inaugurate a community health center in Las Mercedes. But our work is just beginning. In order to continue moving toward our goal of eliminating infectious diseases in the community, we are now embarking on a collaborative project to connect all 388 houses in the community to the city sewage system. The local government is installing the main sewage lines, but the majority of families are simply unable to connect their house to the system due to the extreme poverty in the community. However, this project will provide families with the opportunity to connect to the system at an estimated cost of less than $20 out of pocket per family. To reduce the cost, the residents will dig the canals and develop a communty-wide care and maintenance program for the system. Engineers without Borders (EWB), an international NGO, will provide the engineering plan and design at no cost as well as financial support for purchasing half of the materials. Our role is to raise $20,000 before May 1st, 2014 in order to purchase 5,000 meters of tubing so that the project can be completed during summer 2014 (May-August). We hope that you can help us reach our goal by making a donation today. With a fully functioning sewage system in place, waste can be properly disposed of and residents will no longer be forced to use septic tanks, which have been collapsing throughout the community resulting in a variety of environmental health concerns. Needless to say, this improvement in the infrastructure will have a tremendous impact on the health and well-being of residents.
Our organization is entirely volunteer-based and every single dollar that you donate will be used to purchase materials for the project and not for overhead or administrative costs. Thank you for your interest and support!