While on a mission trip to Haiti in 2011, Jacob Niemeier saw that developing countries were in need of something crucial: a sustainable system that provides clean water.
“There’s so much work being done to bring clean water to communities in need,” Niemeier said. “But it wasn’t resulting in any lasting, sustainable change.”
Niemeier was in college when he got the idea for his nonprofit, but it was not until 2017 that he officially founded Vera Aqua Vera Vita, which is Latin for “True Water True Life.”
Vera Aqua Vera Vita trains people in the communities it serves to operate the water treatment systems it installs, Niemeier said.
“[The] first [step] is to get them involved; let them be part of the solution,” Niemeier said. “Then we have to educate them so that [the system is] sustainable.”
In March, the nonprofit completed construction of a water treatment and storage facility in Monte Castillo, Peru. The system filters and disinfects water from a local irrigation canal for the 7,000 people living in the area.
The facility became operational June 27, Niemeier said.
The next phase of work involves infrastructure improvements, such as upgrading the community’s wastewater sewer system and water-distribution system, he said.
The nonprofit also educates communities about the benefits of good hygiene, such as handwashing, Niemeier said.
There is a ministry aspect to Vera Aqua Vera Vita’s work as well. The organization teaches the spiritual characteristics of water based on a Catholic teaching called Theology of the Body.
This teaching is about the connection between body and soul, and how God intends for his people to live, Niemeier said.
Over the next five years, Niemeier hopes to continue his work in Peru as well as venture into Haiti.
“The impact to the community will be life-changing and help them to begin to flow from simply surviving to ultimately thriving,” Niemeier said.