Running any organization is tough. Leading one that hundreds of thousands of people rely on for clean drinking water is demanding. Doing it as a woman in Honduras’ machismo culture, well, that takes a special kind of person. Diana Cálix is that person, but she would never admit it.
You might miss Diana, EOS International’s Country Director, at a quick glance, standing not much taller than five feet, but what you won’t miss is the grandiose presence and poise that accompanies her every move. She is tough while being gentle and intelligent while considerate of outside ideas. The other thing that is unmistakable is her drive.
After bringing lifesaving, clean drinking water to 108,389 people throughout 330 communities, she isn’t satisfied. Diana’s dream is to work in every department of Honduras, reaching more communities, impacting more families, and saving more lives.
Growing up in Tegucigalpa, Honduras’ capital city, Diana always enjoyed helping others, a value she learned from her father. As she grew up, she recognized that engineering would offer her the career and opportunity to help the masses. And that’s exactly what she did. After studying at the Autonomous University of Honduras in a majority male-dominated field, Diana became a civil engineer and embarked on her dream of serving others.
Diana has always been a strong leader, earning the respect and trust of coworkers and community leaders alike. Before her start with EOS, Diana volunteered with the local rotary and served as their president multiple times. In 2008 there was a call from the mayor’s office for a civil engineer to construct a water treatment plant in the city. The first of its kind. Diana was selected for the project and that is where she met Fred Stottlemyer, a Pennsylvania man who also lived a life dedicated to the service of others.
“I worked with Fred for over a year and a half to build the water treatment plant. After the successful construction, Fred asked me if I would like to start an organization that would help provide rural communities with access to high quality, safe drinking water and improve the community’s health. I loved this idea, and together we founded ADEC.”
ADEC (Agua y Desarrollo Comunitario — Water and Community Development) started small, but after a decade of enthusiastic, hard work, the organization would become one of the premier clean water providers in the country, focusing on rural communities often forgotten and left behind. The staff grew to nine employees, a state-of-the-art water testing lab, and a team of circuit riders who routinely revisit communities to ensure sustainable, long-term success of projects.
Other things changed as well. After years of ardent service to the cause, Diana’s close friend and coworker, Fred, passed away. EOS stepped in to continue and expand upon the mission and impact the two had set out to accomplish those eleven years ago. But even with all the success they have seen, Diana would be the last one to take credit, instead putting that accolade on the team she leads.
“We have a strong team of passionate employees with years of experience. Each staff member is passionate in the work that they do. EOS is not just a name, it is not a person, EOS is a family consisting of all of us.”
Diana’s vision for the organization and her team goes beyond merely bringing clean water to the people of Honduras. She has worked hard to educate communities on how to test their drinking water, maintain their installations, and understand how bacteria and contaminants affect the health of a community. Her aim is to put the power into the hands of the individuals, and encourage them to be their own advocates for healthier, more prosperous lives. And it’s worked. EOS’ hands-on approach has proven successful in improving communities’ health, with reported cases of diarrhea reduced by 49% percent.
“I love my work and have learned to focus on doing what is right. Fred always told me to never just work for a salary. It is more important to work for something that you are passionate about and this has always been my philosophy.”
When a child in the rural countryside of Honduras, a hundred miles away from EOS’ offices in Marcala, turns on their faucet and fills up a glass of clean water, they are probably not thinking of the life-threatening contaminates that used to be in there. They are not thinking of the technology that made that work. And they are certainly not thinking of the one woman who made it all possible. And for Diana, that’s the point.
Create a better future with EOS International
Our 2,325 installations of simple, inexpensive, and locally serviceable technologies have helped over 534,167 Central Americans access safe drinking water and opportunities to generate income. Please help us invest in the future of millions of Central Americans by supporting EOS International.
Photos & Story by Slade Kemmet (www.sladekemmet.com)