Ariel family offers clean water options in Colombia

The Ariels are (from left to right): Jaiden, Kristen, Than, Tara, Vincent, Patrick, Nate, Alicia, Lincoln, Valerie. / Photo submitted

By Jordan Carey
Times-News correspondent

   Nate, Tara, Valerie, Alicia, Jaiden, Kristen, Than, Patrick, Vincent and Lincoln. At first, these might seem like a jumble of names, but this is the Ariel family.
In 2011, the Ariels moved from Burlington, N.C., to Bocachica, Colombia, South America. At first, it seemed like a crazy feat to move to another country with that many kids, but maybe it wasn’t.
Their reason for moving was to become missionaries for the people of Bocachica. For four years, they lived on the island in order to teach the people there. Before their move to Colombia, the Ariels were members of Antioch Community Church, and are once more after moving back to Burlington earlier this year. Within the church, mission trips to Bocachica happened yearly. That was how the idea of moving to Bocachica came into being.
   “I got the first idea of moving to Colombia a lot later than my husband did,” said Tara Ariel. “For me it wasn’t until 2010.”
It might be hard at first to understand why someone would want to live there. Many people in Bocachica go without clean water, full-time electricity, indoor bathrooms and other essentials most people in the United States couldn’t live without. In Bocachica, the people are isolated in a way, which is why Tara says, “it’s about teaching them to do things correctly,” such as hygiene and sanitation.
Part of helping with those things includes teaching the people how to construct and use water filters. On Bocachica, there isn’t any clean water. Because of that, water is shipped from the mainland in large tubs. Unfortunately, the water is always contaminated by the time it arrives at the island. To help the people with that, the Ariels started a project to make water filters for families on the island. Each filter will provide clean water for 25 years and only costs $60. In their years in Bocachica, the Ariels have install around 100 of these filters.
Perhaps one of the hardest things about adjusting to life on Bocachica was taking seven kids.
“My first impression of the island was that everything was really dirty and I didn’t want to touch anything,” said Jaiden, age 12. “But now I love Colombia. I was really sad when I had to leave there.”
After a long time of living on the island, almost all of the kids are fluent in Spanish, one of the many things they have learned from their time in Colombia.
The youngest, Lincoln, wasn’t even born when they moved down to the island; he was born shortly before the Ariels moved back to the States. When they moved to Bocachica, the oldest, Valerie, was only 12 years old. The youngest at the time, Vincent, was only 1.
As missionaries in Colombia, they also wanted to teach the people of Bocachica about Christ. But besides teaching, learning from the people also is important.
“I learned to serve where I could and see the love of the Lord the locals had,” Tara said.
The Ariels hope to be in the states for two years before moving back to Colombia to continuing their mission.
For more information about the Ariels’ project in Bocachica, visit

Jordan Carey is rising freshman home-schooler and a Teens & 20s writer.

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