Want to know how we implement long-lasting change through our safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects in countries like Mexico? In a country where water-related interventions often require strategies that consider infrastructure, education, climate, and macro- and micro-economics, having an optimistic outlook and a genuine love of people is the best approach.
We recently interviewed Water Mission’s country director in Mexico, Johnny Bermúdez, about the fun, informative, people-focused work they do in and around Chiapas, a state in the southeast of the country. Read along to learn more about how safe water and sanitation projects lead to community empowerment!
Our Mexico Program
Water Mission began working in Mexico in 2007 in response to the country’s dire need for clean, safe water. Bordering the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific Ocean, landslides and tropical cyclones are frequent occurrences in the country. This often results in extreme flooding, which contaminates water sources and leads to outbreaks of waterborne and water-related illnesses.
Our program is headquartered in Chiapas, a state with a large indigenous population and one of the highest poverty rates in Mexico. The area’s weak economy is evidenced through poor quality education, housing, and medical services, along with low levels of employment. Unreliable access to safe water goes hand-in-hand with these issues. However, after partnering with Water Mission, many communities in Chiapas have been designated as “healthy communities” by the state health department.
In Mexico, a number of challenges revolve around clarifying what makes water clean and safe to drink. Many households are provided piped water, but the water is not treated and therefore remains contaminated. Because of this, our team spends a significant amount of time educating locals on healthy WASH practices.
Under the leadership of Johnny Bermúdez, the program received official NGO status in 2013. Johnny hails from Tapachula, Chiapas, a city that borders Guatemala.
He worked in the education field as a teacher and administrator for 12 years. He has also served as a counselor, mentor, and pastor for his church. His wife, Danny, serves alongside him at church events and community projects.
Johnny loves nothing more than being around people. He feels blessed to be a part of Water Mission, where his job involves constant interactions and some of his favorite activities: singing, leading worship, public speaking, and riding motorcycles. Johnny’s outgoing personality has been valuable in our community empowerment efforts, and in delivering not just safe water but also the message of the Living Water. We are so thankful for Johnny’s big heart and big dreams for his country.
Our Q&A with Johnny Bermúdez, Mexico country director for Water Mission
Cinelle Barnes: How would you describe your team in one sentence?
Johnny Bermúdez: We’re a group of missionaries, technicians, engineers, and administrators who bring safe water and the message of the Living Water to communities.
CB: Tell us something fun about you and your job.
JB: I love riding my motorcycle to get to a community. I like hiking up hills to get to water sources, diving into lakes, and other daring activities. I love spending time with our staff. They’re mostly in their 20s, so they’re full of joy and energy.
CB: How fun! What else excites you about your work with Water Mission?
JB: We love people. We play soccer with our friends in the community. We eat meals with them and pray with them.
CB: I wish I could join! Looks like your team has a good time. That said, there surely are some obstacles. What unique challenges does your team face in Mexico?
JB: I think our biggest challenge is achieving sustainability… The first year of community [empowerment] is crucial for us. We need to be diligent in the coaching process. Education on WASH practices also involves meetings and trainings on financial sustainability [and healthy practices]. We emphasize this as best as we can to ensure the growth, independence, and success of communities.
CB: That’s really good to know. How else can we support the communities?
JB: Prayers and financial support for our programs and projects. Being best-in-class in the WASH sector requires a specific type and amount of resources.
CB: Thank you so much, Johnny. We’ll keep your team and projects in our prayers. We really appreciate all that you do for Mexico.
We hope Johnny’s heart for people, his generosity of spirit, and his dedication to long-term growth have given you a glimpse on how we work. At Water Mission, we believe that people are at the core of effective, lasting change. Communities are where the true impact of our work originate, and we consider it an honor to be able to partner with them.
Help empower communities through safe water today.