What is a Pila?

To preface this explanation, we are talking about the villages where we live and work here in Honduras.  In the cities and more modern areas of Honduras they function similar to how we do in the States with indoor plumbing, bathrooms, toilets, showers, etc. 

The pila (pee-la) is a very cultural item. Even in a very nice/modern home, you will almost always find a pila where they will still wash some of their clothing items/shoes/etc. Kind of like how some of our older US houses have a larger wash sink.  The most common location for a pila is outdoors, close to the house.  Although occasionally you may find one inside.

A pila is basically a concrete basin with a scrub board attached.  It is made of 4" concrete block with plaster and skim coat to prevent the water from seeping out. 

It is the only source of water for most families because plumbing (indoor or outdoor) is not common.  Any drop of water they use/drink comes out of the pila.  Just think of what you use water for and they would get it out of the pila to do those things.

Purposes of a Pila:
#1:  Collect water  If the community doesn't have a water system they rig up some gutters of sorts to aim rain water off of a roof to fall into the pila.  If they do have a water system, the spigot is right over the pila to fill it up.  However, the water systems here often fail for a few hrs, days, or even weeks. Thus, the pila allows you to store a good amount of water for such occasions.
#2: Washing clothing  You scoop water out of the basin and pour it over your clothing as you wash and rinse on the ribbed section.  Families use many different set ups until they can have their own pila.  Buckets or barrels are used as the basin and rocks are the most popular "scrub board."
#3: Washing dishes This is also how the family would wash all their dishes, and anything else that needs washed for that matter, hands/etc.
#4: Bathing Families do not typically have a bathing area (except some tarps or the like). Children are bathed right on the scrub board area the same way you would wash dishes.  Adults stand along side a pila and dump water over their heads/bodies to bathe.
#5 Flushing a Toilet If they happen to have a toilet (which is rare) they would use a bucket of water out of the pila and pour it into the toilet bowl to "self-flush" the toilet.

Here is a family's typical water situation without a pila.

They collect the water in the black barrel and use the rock to wash on.  The green bar of soap is their laundry soap.

Here is a finished Pila in use.

To see more pictures a family's situation without a pila or to donate toward a community pila project check Heart to Honduras's Sponsor Project Page.  Look for Pila projects.  These are all projects that have come out of communities where we work as Community Development Staff with Heart to Honduras, so we can answer any of your additional questions about them.



Stopping Buses

There is no bus service in Las Lomitas, but that doesn’t mean that there can’t be a bus stop right? This was putting community-based initiative in projects to the test. After weeks of working with the Guy’s Group to identify a project that they truly wanted without any outside input, it came down to a “caseta” or what we would call a bus stop. A basic place that people can sit out of the elements and wait (for whatever that might be: a friend, an empty truck giving rides, or a bug passing by.)

The guys then nailed down a design that they made and figured out how to reach their $500 budget. We wanted to do it all with Honduran funds, but how? The guys ended up saving about $100 of their own, which was a great start. From there, two of them went to the owner of the local hardware to discuss the project with him, which landed a $100 donation, and talking to a local rich land owner another $100 came in. However, the moment of truth came when they went to meet with the mayor.

Two boys from the top of the hill in the middle of nowhere went with me and the pastor for a ride to the county seat, Santa Cruz de Yojoa. Bouncing in the Suzuki on the ride in, we prayed with them, coached them and tried to raise their confidence level. It is not every day that some muchacho from Podunk, Honduras goes to talk to the most powerful man in the surrounding area. I had called in advance, so the mayor came out of his office personally to bring in the boys, which silently shuffled in. After formalities, the mayor looked a Naun and Andres and said, ”Well, then?”

Naun says,“We, uh, uhm, we would like to, uhm, present you, uhm, with a-“

“Take it easy cousin.” Says the mayor reassuring him. “We’re all friends here. Take a breath and explain what it is you would like to tell me. You’re okay.”

With those few words of compassion, the mayor acknowledged the young man’s courage and multiplied it ten-fold. The hardest step of the project had passed and the most important moment in the year process from planning to completion. The two young men who walked out of the mayor’s office with a $200 donation, were not comparable to the two nervous boys who walked in. They were confident. They had stared fear in the face for their community and arrived back home with victory in their hearts. 

 From that point on, some other guys from the group went with us to make the purchases. The group then broke the ground on the project and finshed by installing the roof in December. That little shelter is now the pride of Las Lomitas. No other community on our hillside has one and everyone knows it. Whether you’re walking or driving through Las Lomitas, all pass by the caseta and takes note. Those from Las Lomitas are proud. Even the drunks and potheads have said “Thank you,” and taken the time to sweep and wash it, since they use it a little more than the rest.

It is not every day that a Honduran pastor helps lead a project knowing it will probably be used by the town addicts from time-to-time. He has showed the community that he cares about all of them. This project has inspired a rare confidence in the guys. Last year, we needed a full month to figure out one project. This year’s planning session yielded eight solid projects in 15 minutes. That is development. The leftover materials from this project were used by these same teenage guys, with no input from our part, to build a pila with the pastor for a single mother. The leftover sand was donated to a poor family in the midst of trying to install a concrete floor. That is why we are here. That is development. The town’s liabilities have become their most valuable asset, and the love of Christ is made strong.

Not all are pictured here, but this is some of the guys in the group.


New Project for 2014

We were able to get back to the States for two weeks to celebrate Christmas and New Years with family.  It had been a year since Stacey was back to PA to see her family, so that was especially good.  Now that we have seen family face to face and shared the news with them, we thought we would share it with all of you. 

2014 will be looking a bit different for us!

After practicing with rabbits, cats, dogs, chickens, vegetable gardens, guatusas, banana trees and passion fruit vines, we’re going to take a swing at taking care of a baby human. And not just any baby, our baby! Stacey is 5 months pregnant. We’re over halfway there! Little baby girl Eldridge should be joining the family in mid-May.
We have been doing a lot of praying and thinking just the two of us for over 4 months now and the bottom line is we are not in control, never have been.  God always is.  Our idea is to return to the States for 6 months in 2014, approximately March - August to finish the pregnancy, give birth, and the first few months of the baby's life.  We will be living in the Dayton, OH area where we lived before we moved to Honduras.  We will continue our Community Development staff position with Heart to Honduras in their offices in Xenia, OH.