SAFE AGUA: Design students working on sustainable development

I was packing my stuff and ready (not really) to return to Colombia after 3 years living in Amsterdam when I saw a post on Facebook that attracted my attention. The Volunteers Facebook Group of TECHO Colombia, an NGO in which I used to volunteer 4-5 years ago, and which changed my life (later on I will tell you more about TECHO and my experience) was looking for volunteers who spoke English and who translate when needed during a 2-weeks project made by The Art Center College of Design.

I was very curious and I clicked in the video they posted along the advertisement, the video was called Hands in the Mist. I was shocked of seeing the reality I had’t seen since I moved to Amsterdam and I was also fascinated right away by the work of TECHO and The Art Center.

I loved the whole video but i found this sentence in particular very interesting:

                     ”Why must we design the iPhone 7 if one third of the world doesn’t have anywhere to plug it in?

Hands in the Mist is a short documentary in which students from the Art Center co-designed innovative design solutions to overcome water poverty with families living in Cerro Verde, a slum perched on the hillsides surrounding Lima, Peru.

SAFE AGUA initiative started in Chile (SAFE AGUA Chile) as a project between proffesors/ students from the Art Center and a Latin American NGO called Un Techo para mi País and its Social Innovation Center.

They impact not only in the local community but in the Art Center´s professors and students while doing the project led to expand the idea to other countries in Latin America. So, they went to Peru (SAFE AGUA Peru) and besides researching, co-creating and designing innovative ideas they decided to record their work and make a short documentary: Hands in the Mist (Shortlisted for the Cannes Young Directors Award.  June, 2012).

That was the documentary I saw and by which I was shocked and fascinated at the same time. I was very lucky because when I came back to Colombia they were working on SAFE AGUA Colombia.

I got the chance to meet some professors and students from the Art Center and I went back to one of the slums where I used to work. It was beautiful!. Unfortunately, I could only join them the last day and I had to see some tears saying good-bye but promising they will be back with their designs ready.

I was there, when one of the leaders of the community was thanking all the work done during those 2 weeks. It was so emotional!

tumblr_msokf3WwPe1sgl8sro1_500Fuente: SAFE AGUA Colombia

Mariana Amatullo, Co-Founder & Vice President of Designmatters, says in the Designmatters blog the following:

“Resilience in the simplest terms, can be defined as a system’s ability to mitigate and withstand disturbances and to bounce back afterwards, while continuing to function.  Since 2009 and our first collaboration with Techo and Socialab, the Safe Agua initiative has offered us the unique opportunity to explore the role of designing with purpose and for resilence with families that have limited water access in informal settlements.   This new chapter of Safe Agua, in Colombia, with the team just back from an initial field research module, already presents immense promise.”

You can also see other post related to water:

Water: Nestlé’s gold [English]

El agua está en todo. Concienticémonos! [Spanish]

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