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.


1 comment:

  1. Adults stand along side a pila and dump water over their heads/bodies to bathe.Fred R