Marisol washes her face, in Pamplona Alta, Peru, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. (AtlasNetwork.org Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Marisol lives with her three children and 74-year-old mom in Pamplona Alta, on the desert mountainside on the outskirts of Lima, Peru.

An estimated 200,000 people live in the Pamplona region, and a vast majority don’t have running water. This daily struggle affects everything Marisol and her family does. They spend so much time thinking about it, working around it, and struggling to get it. And when the water trucks do finally decide to visit her block, she’s forced to pay at least ten times more than what the average Lima city-dweller pays. 

But Marisol is brave.

MARISOL trailer directed by Charlie Fritschner; produced by Charlie Fritschner, Daniel Anthony, Conrado Etchebarne. Extended video coming soon.

She raises her family in a home that is only 150 square feet. She sells her home-cooking to the neighbors and makes extra money by sewing.

And even though she can never really get ahead financially, that concern always takes a back seat to the fact that she doesn’t have running water.

Marisol carries her family’s water bin down to where the water truck will deliver water for the day, in Pamplona Alta, Peru, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. (AtlasNetwork.org Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Marisol has decided to fight for change. Because she knows that if she doesn’t voice her concerns, she and others like her in Pamplona will be left in the margins.

So now she’s asking the tough questions—questions that often get people silenced in Peru. Like why is the state-run water service so obtuse and inefficient? And why can’t it adopt more public and private partnerships that could help deliver running water to her family and neighbors? 

Jose Beteta met Marisol a couple of years ago. He and his small but talented think tank team at Asociación de Contribuyentes del Perú—one of Atlas Network's independent partners in Latin America—are dedicated to amplifying Marisol’s voice and championing her cause. Jose and his team are doing the rigorous research and advocacy work to push for public-private partnerships. And they’re advocating for a more transparent process in the complex infrastructure issue of water services for the people of Pamplona Alta. 

Marisol next to her family’s water bin being filled by the local water truck operator, in Pamplona Alta, Peru, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. (AtlasNetwork.org Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

On the day the Atlas Network team visited with Marisol, she and her mom spent an intense 5 hours waiting for the water truck. That same water truck accidentally ran over a child directly in front of her a few months ago. The child died. 

These water trucks have all the power. They usually charge a set fee, but really they can charge anything they want. They sometimes keep a set schedule, but really they come whenever they want. And today, the truck was late.

The entire process is chaotic. Completely inefficient. And words alone can’t describe just how disheartening the whole situation is for the entire community.

These water trucks have all the power. They usually charge a set fee, but really they can charge anything they want.

That’s why Atlas Network wants to share her story—and that’s why Doing Development Differently, our new initiative to give people the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty—is so important.

Marisol’s situation is an urgent one. Her 74-year-old mom is sick from malnutrition. Her 4-year-old son Ronald has a severe tooth infection from the lack of water for dental hygiene. But Ronald and his siblings are the bright light for Marisol. She lights up when she talks about the joy she feels from raising her children and supporting her mother. 

From left to right: Marisol’s son Jostin, 13, Marisol Sulca, 38, her daughter Daymi, 15, her mom Celestina, 74. And front: Ronald, 4, in Pamplona Alta, Peru, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. (AtlasNetwork.org Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

And yet she never once said she was poor. 

Peru needs free-market solutions to its water infrastructure problems. And people like Marisol need Asociación de Contribuyentes del Perú to be successful advocates for them. Over the last few years, Atlas Network’s investment in their research and advocacy has given them the resources they need to take their work to the next level. Their efforts to improve water access through public-private partnerships is their latest effort to reform public policy.

Jose Beteta of Asociación de Contribuyentes del Perú with Marisol’s family in their home along with Jose’s colleague Sophia Wong in back, in Pamplona Alta, Peru, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. (AtlasNetwork.org Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

ABOUT THE PROJECT: DOING DEVELOPMENT DIFFERENTLY
Doing Development Differently is Atlas Network’s initiative to give people the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty by supporting a global network of locally grown solutions to poverty alleviation. Learn More

THANK YOU TO OUR PRIMARY PROJECT SPONSOR
Atlas Network would like to thank this storytelling series project’s unbelievably generous primary sponsor, the John Templeton Foundation. They are helping people like Marisol and her family amplify their voices as they call for more free-market solutions to poverty.

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: RODRIGO ABD
Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Rodrigo Abd lives in Lima, is originally from Argentina, and travels extensively to capture the essence of some of our world’s most complex human-interest stories. Rodrigo partnered with Atlas Network to photograph Marisol’s story along with the stories of many more individuals and small entrepreneurs in Peru, Argentina, and Costa Rica, all of which will be shared on this site soon.

LEFT: Marisol hugs Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Rodrigo goodbye, in Pamplona Alta, Peru, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. (AtlasNetwork.org Photo)
RIGHT: Atlas Network’s Daniel Anthony goofing around with Ronald and Rodrigo as they say their goodbyes, in Pamplona Alta, Peru, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. (AtlasNetwork.org Photo)

Stay tuned for more photos and more stories. And be on the lookout for a three-country documentary video series from the project.

LEARN HOW YOU CAN HELP CREATE THE NEXT GREAT STORY