Testing the Waters with Nava

Nava (left) collects water sample

By Mariela Rodriguez – Communications Coordinator

This spring we had the privilege of welcoming back third-time volunteer, Nava Barman. When he first arrived in 2017, Nava shares how our mountainous region was reminiscent of “my family’s hometown in Northeast India,”- which is one of the reasons he has enjoyed returning. Now as a medical student pursuing his Masters in Public Health at Harvard he reached out to Shoulder to Shoulder to do his practicum.When Nava met with our Hens Hatching Hope staff they asked him whether our region’s drinking water could be causing children to continue contracting diahrrea. To prepare answering this broad question, Nava consulted with two field experts. This allowed him to strategize a needs assessment in Santa Lucia and Colomoncagua which included 2 main activities: testing multiple water sources for E.coli and interviewing key members to understand how water is treated and consumed by children under 5 years old.

Nava met with the local ‘juntas de agua‘ – community water committees who volunteer to do anything from keeping the water pipes clean to distributing water. They were happy to hike up the mountain with Nava to collect water samples for testing, amounting to 20 samples, from 8 communities.

After Nava conducted a portable water test, he had to grapple with delivering difficult news. Over 90% of his samples came back positive for E.coli shedding some light on what kind of water our children are drinking at home and at school. While there is no easy solution to many complex public health problems, projects like Nava’s help to create data and bring evidence to pre-existing suspicions that are present in our communities. In this case, what is contributing to our children’s frequent diahrrea bouts.

Thank you to Nava who chose to return to our region to conduct his practicum. We wish him the best as he continues his studies and we hope to see him back in Honduras once more.

To read Nava Barman’s full blog entry on Harvard’s website, click on the link below


Nava Barman's Intibuca Frontera Community Water Schema