Ismael, a thirsty family’s superhero

When we first met Ismael, he was a 9-year-old boy living in a dry region of El Salvador where water is scarce. As the little “Superman” of his family, it was his responsibility to make the treacherous two-hour journey to fetch water for his family.

During the dry season, Ismael would make this exhausting trek at least twice day. Each time returning to his home up a steep mountain with a heavy container filled with greyish, contaminated water. “It feels like my legs are on fire. I dream of not making the long walk up,” he said. Despite his aching muscles, Ismael willingly collected the water each day, knowing how important it was for his family's survival, even if would make them sick.

His grandmother, Valentina, would look after Ismael while his mother would work. Sometimes, during the dry season when the nearby water source would dry up, Valentina couldn’t buy food for her family because she had to spend what little money they had on water.

Ismael loves to go to school and do homework. His favorite subject is science. But because it was his job to gather water every day, Ismael missed lots of days of school. Ismael thinks about what he would like to be when he grows up and dreams of having a job where he can earn money to help his family. “I would like to work in a store when I’m older,” he said.

Valentina used to wish that Ismael and his siblings could go to school more often, “If they had the opportunity to go to high school, they could be anything they want to be,”" she said.

Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of Food For The Poor donors, Ismael no longer has to spend his days collecting water, and instead he can spend his time doing what he loves most ― going to school.

Ismael and his family now have access to fresh, clean drinking water. They no longer become sick from drinking contaminated water and Valentina won’t have to spend their food money to purchase water to drink.

Valentina said, “As long as my feet are here on this earth, I will continue to give thanks and pray to God. Even if you’ve lost everything else, but your feet are still here on this earth, you need to thank God.”