February 21, 2024

At the community of Bonanto, a small crowd greeted us with a great deal of respect. Three elders insisting on bestowing a blessing upon us for our work, which was so humbling.  An interview with a few young girls brought out that Water to Thrive was literally an answer to their prayers for fresh water.  This experience helped to shift my perspective on white saviorism; access to clean water is a basic human right, not a privilege. Yet, it struck me that despite having access to clean water, they still bathed in the polluted river.

The elders mentioned the water’s significance in bamboo production and hut construction, highlighting the many roles it plays in their lives. This then is part of the puzzle for me.  The water is a significantly precious resource which they put first toward drinking, food, cooking – personal hygiene is the last piece they would consider using such a precious commodity.  Despite lingering questions, the day reinforced the importance of providing essential resources to communities in need, regardless of their settlement choices or circumstances.

Sharing coffee and breaking bread is a tradition in Ethiopia, and the community embraced us enthusiastically. The lack of women at the coffee was striking.  Susanne said they were working on preparing the food on the other side of the hut.  Ethiopia has exceedingly traditional expectations and roles for women.