In 1975, Simón Zimmer, one of the founders of Aguayuda, was born in Bogotá, Colombia. His biological family was poor and had to make the difficult decision to give him up for adoption when he was 6 months old. He was adopted by a loving German family living in Maryland, USA.
Not until Simón turned 25 did he ever think about going back to Colombia to discover his roots. But once the idea was set in his mind, he did everything possible to go back to Colombia. Between 2003 and 2005, he served 2 years in Peace Corps in Honduras accompanied by his girlfriend and future wife, Sabrina. In late 2005, Simón and Sabrina visited Colombia for the first time. After 6 weeks of being in Colombia, they found his biological family after 30 long years. It was an amazing and joyous reunion and it was at this moment that Colombia became Simón’s second home. A few months later, with the support of Art and Linda Zimmer (his father and stepmother), the inspiration for Aguayuda (Agua = Water, Ayuda = Help) was born.
Since 2006, Aguayuda has provided access to clean water and sanitation to over 11,000 people in the department of La Guajira, Colombia by repairing windmills, installing pipelines, repairing water storage tanks, distributing water filters, installing composting latrines, building laundry washing stations, providing hygiene education and training in the local indigenous language, and facilitating the legalization of water-user associations.
The department of La Guajira is a remote, mostly dry desert, peninsula occupying the border between Colombia and Venezuela. It is home to the country’s largest indigenous population, primarily Wayúu. The area is mostly rural, and 9 out of 10 residents live in extreme poverty, made worse by the third year of extreme drought.
With the goal of reaching the poorest and most marginalized populations with access to WASH, WaterAid will build on Aguayuda’s work in La Guajira.
Leveraging Aguayuda’s expertise in the region-specific challenges and WASH solutions WaterAid aims to reach nearly 30,000 people in Colombia with water, sanitation and hygiene programs over the next three years, 2016 - 2019. Read more about our partnership with Aguayuda and our work in Colombia.