Merry-Go-Round Helps Prevent Infant Deaths

June 01, 2009 | Dolly Wilfley

A merry-go-round built and installed by Spokane (Wash.) volunteers this year is preventing infant deaths in the village of La Canoa, Guatemala. In this village of nearly 400 people, three babies died in 2008 due to contaminated drinking water. Previous to that time, at least one infant died per year. But not this year.

For several years, two brothers, Lynn and Gary Bartholomew, have gone to Guatemala to drill water wells. Last year, realizing they were going to drill in La Canoa, which has no electricity, the Bartholomew brothers asked Frank Clark, a Spokane volunteer, to fashion a merry-go-round that when "operated" could pump water into a 500-gallon reservoir. With no other play equipment for the 64 children in La Canoa, school recesses found the children "working hard" to pump water for their village during the year. There are now big smiles and no more infant deaths, thanks to the now-available, pure water system.

Though the ministry of Water for Life International is growing, the remaining need in Guatemala is almost overwhelming. Infant death and acute diarrheal illness from amoeba and E. coli are major and pervasive health issues in every village not yet having a pure water source. "We are dependent on volunteers," says Gary Bartholomew.

Water for Life International is now officially a nonprofit organization affiliated with ASI. More information on its mission and upcoming projects is available online at: