I was absolutely impressed by the WaterAid team - they are doing great work and changing lives.
Rachel Brydon Jannetta, Chair of WaterAid America, shares stories from her first visit to WaterAid's programs in Nicaragua:

Our trip to Nicaragua was my first experience visiting a WaterAid project. I'm quite a seasoned traveler but I have to admit I tend to travel in comfort in the developed world and have never even been camping. We arrived in Managua to a very warm evening and made our way Granada where we held our board meeting and enjoyed a cultural presentation in the evening that included folk dancing - all very civilized thus far.

The following day we travelled to Bilwi - a more rural and less developed area than Managua or Granada and it felt even hotter. Coming from Scotland I tend to think of anything above 75°F as HOT, so I was moving out of my comfort zone for sure.

Our trip to a school that WaterAid has been working with to provide water and sanitation was a real eye-opener for me - it took us over two hours to go about 15 miles. There was no real road, just a mud track with many ruts and potholes. Luckily this was the "dry" season otherwise I imagine the road would become quite a quagmire.

height="230"The school has no electricity and when the rain started not long after our arrival it got pretty dark. "How do these children do their schoolwork in the dark?", I wondered.

The children proudly showed us the toilets and performed a play for us about the importance of washing your hands. They had a lot of fun and it was really touching to see these little kids present their play to a bunch of "oldies" from WaterAid.

We now faced the two-hour drive back to the town of Bilwi in the dark. This time our driver had to lurch between roaming cattle as well as potholes. It really struck me how difficult the work must be for the WaterAid staff on the ground; access takes on a completely new meaning in difficult terrain like this. Everything is more time-consuming and complex than I could have imagined.

A particularly memorable experience was visiting a home where WaterAid had helped install a toilet. The mother had lost her legs and therefore could not get around. Until the toilet was built in her house her adult daughter had to carry her down the steps of the house and outside to a pit latrine.

I couldn't imagine not being able to walk to the bathroom or not having a bathroom in my house. Seeing what a difference a simple toilet can make really made me feel even more passionate about the work that WaterAid does.

WaterAid's water and sanitation facilities in Nicaragua are constructed by local people, including at-risk teenagers who attended a WaterAid vocational training course. Watch this video to find out more: