Sustenance for Happiness: A More Than Even Exchange

By Ashley Posimato

With the breaking of each wave it rushes onto the sand, creating the most welcoming summer breeze along the shoreline. It showers down upon the earth eliminating the lingering summer heat and initiating an equally pleasant crisp autumn breeze. As it descends from the sky, it freezes, naturally illustrating a long awaited winter wonderland. It follows the photosynthetic process of the sun, soaking the ground and nourishing the roots of plants that thirst for it.

Water is basic: it is just as desired fulfilling as it is necessary.

At the same time, water is abstract: it is longed for and unattainable; it is essential yet scarce.

Although theoretically inconsistent, both statements stem from very real circumstances. Water, for those fortunate enough to enjoy its prevalence, is thoughtlessly interwoven into society. However, an entire separate population aches from the void of this resource. When forced to confront such a reality, a small group of Marist students found themselves reevaluating their appreciation of one of life’s simplest necessities.

Marist’s Campus Ministry boasts the highest student membership of any organization on campus. In addition to its monthly meetings and weekly volunteer programs, Campus Ministry offers special project opportunities that allow students to fulfill their responsibility as global citizens by performing service on an international scale through the Global Outreach team.

They arrive back to campus with much more than the small amount of luggage they leave with.

“I really didn’t know what it would be like,” said Caroline Brandel, a junior and first time member of the Global Outreach team. “But in close to no time I became part of the community,” she said, “at the end of the week, I didn’t want to leave.”

Last friday, Campus Ministry’s Global Outreach team returned from Merida, capital of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, where they worked in the Emiliano Zapata community for the third consecutive year.

First year campus minister Katie Sullivan replaced Jamie Williams as the advisor and facilitator of this year’s trip.

“I’ve done service like this before,” Sullivan said, “It’s exciting because the needs of the community are always changing.”

This year the main concern was supplying the residents of the underdeveloped areas with clean water.

“The Emiliano Zapata was built on a dump, so the water is not drinkable for anyone,” Sullivan said. “Our job was to filter it in the new water plant and deliver it to the southern most parts of town.”Photo by: Katie Sullivan, Marist College

The new facility allowed the team to filter 20 liters at a time and distribute the containers accordingly. Each container cost 6 pasos for the immediate surrounding area, and 3 pasos for the refugees who dwell in the deep south (both discounted prices).

“I was part of the group that brought the containers back to the refugees in the south,” Brandel said. “This was the poorest area, but as shocking as it was to see the conditions they were living in, it was even more incredible to receive their appreciation,” she said. “It was the most genuine emotion I ever experienced–and over water.”

The students worked full days though the dry heat of the Mexican climate. They collected and filled large containers with a purified form of what they previously considered an indispensable resource.

“At the end of the last day when my skin was filled with sweat, dirt, and mosquito bites, I couldn’t wait to just wash my face,” Brandel said. “Then the faucet let out two small drops before it completely stopped running,” she said, “That night I slept with a dirty face, and a big smile.”


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