Community Update

Digital Empowerment Toolkit Now Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits aim to provide the resources you need to advance your social change work.

We are excited to introduce our Digital Empowerment Trainers’ Toolkit, a dynamic resource to help you bring the benefits of connecting online to women in your community. Check it out today! »

Water and Transformation Peru Amazon

Secure drinking water flows equally to each home and the village schoolhouse.
Children participate in weekly hygiene classes at the village schoolhouse. Basic hygiene practices are part of the school curriculum. Our programming was in partnership with the health and education ministry.
Mothers learn how to test the water supply on-site using a portable microbiology laboratory that delivers results in 24 hours. Bi-monthly health classes were held and well attended by the moms.
The village schoolhouse has bathrooms; flush latrines and a naturally decomposing septic system. There are separate sides for the boys and girls. The structure was built using rocks from the river and palms from the forest
Children are responsible for the daily and weekly maintenance of the bathrooms and the utility sinks at the schoolhouse.
Each village home has a stone utility sink with an underground greywater drain. Up to 25 people can live in one dwelling. Families were responsible for building their sinks.
The children created artwork for a healthy lifestyle campaign. Thirteen painting in four languages, Spanish, Matsigenka, Quechua, and Huachipaeri were exhibited at the UN Indigenous Forum in NYC in May 07.
The village water committee fully participated in the building the gravity flow water systems, utility sinks, greywater drains, and the bathrooms and septic system. The monitor and secure water quality in the village.
Babies are now being born healthier, because the mothers are better educated through out health, nutrition and hygiene programming.
Children learned how to test the bacterial levels in their water supply with the portable microbiology lab.



Auma's picture


These are pictures that give encouragement,Nancy! Welcome to PulseWire.We will be glad to hear more about you and your work!

Leah Auma Okeyo-Africa Outreach Specialist-PulseWire

nancysantullo's picture

Thanks Leah

Thanks Leah, I am currently in the field and will post a journal soon! Blessing and love, Nancy

Jennifer Ruwart's picture



Welcome to PulseWire! These pictures are beautiful. I keep scrolling up and looking at them. I love the picture of the girl drinking from the faucet.

I am so impressed at the depth of this project. Not only is it providing the village clean drinking, the mothers and their children are learning many skills. I like to call that "feeding two birds with one crouton!"

There are a few women on this site I think you might like to meet:

Rosemary Enie, Chief Executive Officer/President, Women International Coalition Organisation (WICO) International

Sumedha Kailash, Director, Bal Ashram, Bal Ashram Trust

Myrna, Publisher/Owner, Blueline Publishing

Gemma Bulos, Founder, A Single Drop

And finally, we have a group devoted to Water!

johnsonssempijja's picture

Hope is the key

Dear nancysantullo.

Please l am Glad that your serving the young people in your nation and l have hope you can also bring your services in uganda,your always very welcome to come and creat the same services in uganda l am a Photographer based in uganda my nation, Please visit my at

Yours Johnson Ssempijja

Julie L's picture


What sustainable projects and beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing the story of such an effective project.

Thanks Julie for you comments. Its been incredible to bring sustainable programming to native communities., I just got back from a 9 day trip to a new community that we hope to bring clean water, sanitation and health education too soon! Kindly, Nan


I get such joy when I read look at the pictures in this post. My heart leaps at the success of your work.

I know you are about to embark on Project Expansion. I think any community that is interested in your work would love to know what challenges you faced with Project Huacaria. What lessons learned will you carry forward? Do you have best practices you can share with our community?

All my love,

Hi Jenn, Caramba , sorry for the delay its been a busy time! Answers to your questions!!! Let me know your thoughts! Lots of love for a health, happy "New Year" with all your dreams come true! xo Nancy

Developing and implementing the first clean water, sanitation and health project for native rain forest people in the Manu Rain Forest had its challenges no doubt about it! First, when we enlisted the help of indigenous experts who had work in the region for 16 years, they told us that we were doomed to fail. There is no model to follow, because a clean water/ indigenous health project in context to rain forest cultures simply did not exist in the southeastern Peruvian Amazon. So everyone was skeptical! But we persisted, holding the energy for the project, against a stack of odds, -- working toward a goal of improved health for the children and families of Huacaria.

In the beginning of the project it seemed like each day we faced about 10 new challenges! Cultural barriers, misunderstandings and rumors were non-stop with our initial construction staff, certain people of Huacaria and in the surrounding pueblos. Change was making the people a bit uncomfortable, and they were not clear where this change would take them. It was a bit difficult getting work completed and delivered on time, organizing community workforces, and getting a male dominated work force accustomed to a women supervisor "ME" that had an eye for the details! LOL!

We eventually established a construction crew that was accountable for their work, respected customs and lifestyle in the community, and open to learning and exchanging knowledge with our US based supervisory team. We learned to give each worker an opportunity to improve, learn, and expand his/her work. We fixed constructions mistakes over and over, and used each mistake as a teaching tool. We built using natural resources and local materials, which blended into the environment and supported the local economy.

We learned that our work had to be developed and implemented in harmony with the natural cycles of the Amazon, and that most everything scheduled took two to three times longer to accomplish than originally planned, adding additional costs to our budget. We also learned that when working in the middle of the Amazon and with native cultures, work schedules had to be flexible, and the forces of nature (heavy rains, winds and mud), in fact, always won over our well-planned construction schedule.

In the end we understood that we had no control of the success or failure of their lives or life and death in the village, and that indeed we were a global family helping each other improve the quality of our human existence. It was a journey of the heart that ultimately led each one of us back to ourselves. The impossible has now been made possible in Huacaria and they as a people will always have this "Monumental" achievement!

What we carry forward into our expansion efforts are greater patience, deeper compassion in understanding the subtleties of indigenous cultures, submission to the elements…sound, culturally appropriate indigenous health programming, humor and lots of LOVE!

Best practices for building in remote rain forest communities (populations 200- 500):

1) Equal access to safe drinking water at each home/Communal Water System

2) Build in harmony with the eco-system using low technology methods of water and sanitation infrastructure. (Slow sand filtration/septic systems that naturally decompose waste)

3) Principle work force/team in-county based.

4) Communal water fund, where each family pays a fee for health infrastructure and water.

5) Community based participation and with active involvement from the children. All community meetings and correspondence be translated into native language.

6) Establish and train community based water committees to build, maintain and sustain infrastructure.

7) Health and hygiene education for women, children and families over 5 years.

8) Partnerships with Health and Education Ministries so not to reinvent the wheel and long term sustainability.

9) Not look at the people that we serve as poor, and supporting people/humanity in their strength.

jadefrank's picture

Sharing Solutions

Hi Nancy,

I found your outline for best practices so compelling and useful for others that are interested in creating similar projects. I re-posted your comment in SharingSolutions so that other members can easily access and gain from your excellent insight and detailed information.

Thanks again for sharing your experience here with us on PulseWire!


jadefrank's picture


Hi Nancy,

It's so wonderful that you have shared with us these pictures of your project in the Manu Rain Forest. The images are so vivid and truly tell the success story of your work.

While your journey in this hasn't been easy, your tireless efforts have accomplished so much. Thank you for sharing the lessons you have learned in this and the model you have laid out for best practices for those who wish to establish something on similar lines.

Keep up the amazing work and keep us posted! I know that many here on PulseWire have so much to gain from your insight and I hope that you too can find partnerships here to further your work.

Happy New Year! I wish you all the best in your goals for 2009!

Warm regards,

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Inside Congo's Growing Sisterhood

Inside Congo's Growing Sisterhood

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

PAKISTAN: They Went to School and Never Came Back

PAKISTAN: They Went to School and Never Came Back

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Blog »

Read the latest from World Pulse headquarters

Announcing Our Prize Winners!

Announcing Our Prize Winners!

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative