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Planting a Seed/Sembrando una Semilla

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02.20.2018

Our new organizer Sergio Cahueque braved the snowy February roads earlier this month and traveled from Portland to Milbridge, Maine, to share the importance of well water testing with the town’s immigrant community. His bilingual Spanish and English presentation on the dangers of arsenic-contaminated well water was offered in partnership with Mano en Mano, a community organization whose mission is to help farmworkers and immigrants thrive in Maine.

Arsenic, which occurs naturally in some Maine bedrocks, can leach into wells and contaminate drinking water. Because arsenic is colorless and odorless, many families in Maine are drinking this poison without realizing it. Long-term exposure to arsenic harms children’s developing brains, and it is also linked to lung, skin, and bladder cancer.

“I felt like I was planting a seed of awareness. From this presentation, knowledge about the arsenic problem is going to grow, spreading through families and neighborhoods.” 

For the largely Spanish-speaking audience in Milbridge, much of the information about arsenic was new. Many concerned moms and grandmothers were in attendance, and they had lots of questions about the effects of arsenic and how to keep their kids and grandchildren safe. People also remarked to Sergio that they would be sure to tell their families, friends, and neighbors who couldn’t be there about how important it is to test well water for arsenic.

Sergio said, “I felt like I was planting a seed of awareness. From this presentation, knowledge about the arsenic problem is going to grow, spreading through families and neighborhoods.” 

Much more work is needed until all Maine families have safe water to drink. That’s why we worked so hard last year to successfully advocate for the Maine Legislature to pass two laws that will allow the state to educate and help more people with arsenic-contaminated well water.

Thanks to a grant from the Maine Cancer Foundation, Sergio was also able to offer free water testing kits at the presentation. As Sergio gets ready to educate families about the results and their options for next steps, we’re grateful to the Maine Cancer Foundation and people like you, our donors, for supporting this critical work to make sure all families in Maine have access to safe water.