Day Two: Lake Visit

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The second day at Faith Ministry (FM) in Reynosa, Mexico was a big day. We’ll update you about our visit to the health clinic, nutrition program and progress on the house on Facebook…(but we’ll give you a hint. The walls are up and looking great!)

The most impactful event took place after dinner this evening, when the team made a visit to the shores of Lake Pedro J Mendes Calichera.

Lake Pedro J Mendes Calichera is one of several lakes located in Reynosa. It is situated near the FM facilities and is the location where we are currently building the house for the Guillermina Ramirez Family.

The people who live on the land near the lake earn about $200-300USD per month/per family mining through mountains of discarded materials which have been dumped on the lake. While municipal waste services are available in Reynosa, the monetary cost ($5 per load of trash) outweighs the resulting environmental cost in the decision making process. The consequences of this incentive structure leads to the following:

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As the culture of the area accepts this as a normal activity, the “waste” materials are plentiful. Materials discarded on the lake shore range from tires to many varieties of plastic to substances which make the water toxic. Most of the city of Reynosa does not provide municipal water services. Therefore, for drinking water, most people rely on water delivery from water trucks or from bottled water. Bottles of water are made from plastic, and after one use, most are discarded onto the shores of the lake.

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This got us thinking. At dinner, we all used plastic utensils because washing silverware in tap water increased the risk of getting volunteers sick. We drank water out of plastic bottles because we could not drink tap water. We bought these bottles in bulk and discarded them in bulk after one use. The question then is, do we have a systemic plastic, waste, social, or water system issue? We might suggest that it is a water issue because without clean drinking water we are forced into a system of buying and using disposable plastic items that ultimately add to the environmental degradation. The bottles were monetarily cheap (made with cheap petroleum) and much easier to access than toxic lake water. If there were access to clean water, this plastic would never be discarded in the municipal facility or on the shores of the lake.

Additionally, if we wanted to remove the discarded plastic from the lake shore, several incentives could be rearranged to promote a clean environment. By sorting plastic by type and bar code, it would be possible to offer deposit returns (as exist in several states in the US).

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Life is making the first move to return the shores of Lake Pedro J Mendes Calichera to its natural state. The flowers are beginning to grow amongst the plastic piles. The question is, will the community and the visitors see life blooming and join in?


Written by Ken Dabkowski and William Nuckols. Ken and William came from M-CAM in Charlottesville, Virginia, to work for a week as Faith Ministry interns.

Posted in Reflections