“Darlene Arviso is a saint.”
In the Navajo Nation, 100 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico there’s a woman affectionately known as “The Water Lady.” Every month, Darlene Arviso drives to 250 homes and provides them with fresh, clean water. The average resident of the Navajo Nation uses seven gallons a day, compared the 100 used by the average U.S. resident. In an area where 40% of families are without running water, Arviso fills their buckets, jars, plastic barrels, and other containers on her monthly visit.
In an area where unemployment is as high as 70%, Arviso’s work sheds light on the terrible inequity faced by many living on U.S. reservations. For those without running water, the closest tap is a 100-mile-long round trip to the St. Bonaventure Indian Mission in Thoreau, New Mexico. Further complicating the issue is many don’t have cars. According to the mission’s office manager, Cindy Howe, “If they don’t have any water, they don’t have any water. Sometimes I get so frustrated. Why can’t people get water?” That’s why Arviso’s work is crucial for many families.
Every day, Arviso loads up her bright yellow tanker truck and delivers water across the reservation. “When I see her coming I’m like, ‘Yes! Yes! water’,” said a resident. Arviso was born and raised on the reservation and during her work hours she drives another large, yellow vehicle, a school bus. Arviso’s daily deliveries can be made more difficult if the reservation’s dirt roads become wet and muddy after rain or snow. “Darlene Arviso is a living saint,” said George McGraw, founder of DIGDEEP a non-profit that helps provide water to third-world countries.