Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | August 11, 2011

Meet Simón Zimmer, a Water Humanitarian. Guest Post By Simón Zimmer.

I was born in Bogotá in 1975. My Colombian family was very poor at the time and they gave me up for adoption when I was 6 months old. I was adopted by a loving and caring German family who lived in the United States. As I grew up in the United States, I remained focused on my American lifestyle and thought little about Colombia until I turned 25 when it became one of my major life goals to go back to Colombia and learn about the country I was born in. As I read more about Colombia and its serious problems regarding the war, poverty and corruption, I felt a strong desire to help Colombia but was not sure yet how. Through volunteer experiences in Bolivia, Ecuador and Honduras, where I spent my two years in the Peace Corps, I learned to speak and write Spanish. Even with this experience, and even though my blood is 100% Colombian, my Spanish remains gringo. Nevertheless, my gringo Colombian roots kept calling me to go back to Colombia.

In 2005, my wife, Sabrina, and I moved to Bogotá for 6 months. We always loved Latin America, but Colombia was something special. Six weeks into our time in Bogotá, we found my biological family after 30 years. It was an amazing, emotional and wonderful moment in my life and through this experience, Colombia officially became my second home.

In 2006, with the support of my adopted family from the United States, Sabrina and I created the non-profit organization Aguayuda with the mission to improve life and health in poor rural communities through clean water and education. We are a small, non-profit organization with a limited budget, but in 5 years we have helped 3,900 people through windmills, water distribution systems and rain catchment systems that are accompanied with educational workshops on important topics such as water education and waste management.

Some of our favorite memories working in Colombia involve the community of Santropel, La Guajira. Although they were shy and skeptical of us during our initial visit, after completing two water projects in the community, the residents now greet us as dear close friends with hugs, smiles and laughter.

In Ramonero, La Guajira, we installed a new windmill after their previous windmill was stolen. Yes, the whole windmill was stolen—not one piece, but the entire structure. This left the community with no access to clean water, which we happily reestablished for the people of Ramonero. We accompanied the water project with a trash clean-up with the community that produced 78 bags of trash. I will never forget the 8-year-old boy, Jorge, telling me, “Wow, the community looks so beautiful now!”

Ultimately, Aguayuda does not only provide water and education solutions but also forms new friendships with communities that so desperately need help, support and guidance. Fortunately, we have received excellent assistance from many wonderful people from the United States, Germany and Colombia, among other countries. It is amazing what can be accomplished when people from various backgrounds work together for a common goal. “Colombia is passion” and if we can harness everyone’s passion to positive action, then together we can help Colombia become a better country. If you would like to learn more about Aguayuda, please visit our website at www.aguayuda.org.

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  1. […] Talking with Colombia Blog Post […]


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