Maria Wilcox was an 18-year-old exchange student in Venezuela when she learned the value of water.
"I was told when I got there to limit my showers to three minutes," she said. "One day I took a 10 minute shower, and my hosts sat me down and told me how every drop of water I wasted was precious. I was so naive, I didn't even know that we paid for water back home. I thought it was free."
Those experiences left an impression on Maria. As an adult she began training missionaries and participating in mission trips to Central America.
Today she helps raise money for the efforts of Water With Blessings in Venezuela. She also served for five years as a WWB Board Member.
"We have supplied 80 filters to Water Women in Venezuela," Maria said. "We have another 20 going now, but we would like to add more to the shipment."
The Water With Blessings efforts are in an area called Cabudare, near the Andes in west-central Venezuela
In Venezuela, in addition to contaminated drinking water in many areas, the public water going into homes is turned off when it rains. The local sewage systems can't handle the extra water and it will back up into the houses.
"Without clean water, people will even brush their teeth with other drinks like Sprite or apple juice," Maria said. "That leads to tooth decay and other problems. Also, there are chemicals in other sources
"They even ask if we can filter soft drinks or something else. The water is so bad that after you filter it they still don't trust it. That's why education about the filters and the training process is so important. Every part of the Water With Blessings system is there for a reason."