Maria is one in a million.

Tiny chicks and puppies are underfoot as Maria joyfully gestures to her collection of plants – some she simply enjoys herself and others she nurtures for sale. While she has a plot of land an hour away where she grows coffee, corn, and beans, she also tends to a few hogs at her home – in case of emergency, she reveals; they can be sold easily to pay bills should a family member fall ill. A bee hive precariously hanging from one corner of the shed produces honey for medicinal use, and rain is collected at the end of a spout suspended from the other.

A tour of Maria’s modest property reveals that she is both entrepreneurial and organized, and there is no question that she is a woman well-suited to lead.

Maria is well-versed in her community’s gravity water system having volunteered in the role of water board treasurer and secretary before being selected by her community to take on the role of president one year ago. As one of the first residents here, she has seen the community grow from but a handful of homes to over 50, and her peers put their faith in her to lead the charge as they manage clean water access for the growing number of families.

Maria’s home is the location of the middle-home water quality test. Today it passes the test, as it has since EOS engaged with the community and initiated tablet chlorination three years ago. While Maria grew up in the city, she prefers the fresh air of her country life where her grandkids can run and play while in her care. And while she credits EOS for the organized way she leads her water board, including prioritizing saving money as the board plans ahead for system expansion and the inevitable repairs to an aging system, she certainly brings her own innate savvy to the table.

On International Women’s Day, we recognize women as critical stakeholders in not only water use, but in water access, water quality, and water governance. As clean water advocates and care-takers of communities, we celebrate women like Maria!