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May 28: Arrival in Addis Ababa

Our flight to Addis was smooth, uneventful and landed on time, a good way to start our trip to Celebrate the Wells of Love. We landed at 7:30 am and went immediately to our hotel to give everyone a chance to freshen up and rest a bit.

Nice lunch at a local Italian place and then off to tour the city and visit the National Natural History, home of world famous Lucy. Lucy is the name of 3.2 million year old skeleton remains of a young girl discovered in the Afar region that is linked to our current human race.

 

 

After returning to the hotel, the group enjoyed a nice dinner with Gashaw, our resident Ethiopian water expert, and his family, including wife Lydia (expecting baby #2), son Enoch (3 yrs old) and Lydia’s sister Ruth. Gashaw will be traveling with the group most of the way, educating us about all the facets of well construction, community engagement and project sustainability.

 

- Dick

 

 

May 27: Ready for Departure

 

And they're off! Water to Thrive founder Dick Moeller is leading a special trip of supporters from Triumphant Love Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas until June 6th. After a layover in Washington, D.C., the group is now on their way to Ethiopia to love and serve the people there. The congregation of TLLC has been a longtime supporter of the mission of Water to Thrive, funding many wells over the eight years of our existence. This spring, TLLC held a special fundraising drive, Celebrating Wells of Love, that funded an additional six wells. Now, TLLC congregation members are traveling to Ethiopia to visit wells that were funded as early as 2008 and as recently as last year, seeing the impact on a community of easy access to clean, safe water.

We invite you to pray along with us for these men and women doing God's work and for the sweet people of Ethiopia. Internet connection permitting, we will have daily updates from Dick and others on the trip, with photos and new experiences so that you can follow along on this journey with them. Check back here frequently to stay in the know!

We thank you for your support and prayer, and are forever grateful for the love you have shown the people of East Africa through your donations, kind words, and prayers. We couldn't do any of this without you!

Mother's Day 2016

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Mother's Day

In the countries we serve, the burden of water literally falls on the shoulders of women and mothers. When a community lacks clean, safe water, the women of the village must trek for miles to find a water source, then carry home a heavy jerry can filled with dirty water. Too often, their children make the trek with them. Far too often, their children suffer waterborne diseases from the tainted water source. But when Water to Thrive is able to place a water project in a village, everything changes. The water source is just minutes away. The water itself runs clean and pure. Mothers are able to turn their attention to other needs of their family, finding ways to supplement the family income and delivering their children to school.

This Mother's Day, give your mother the gift of changing another mother's life. Join our Mother's Day campaign. Every $500 we raise will bring the blessing of clean, safe water to 50 mothers in rural Africa. Whether you give a little or a lot, your gift to the mothers in your life will make a tremendous difference in the lives of those other mothers. Donate here and download a special Mother's Day Card here

 

#ChangeLives Campaign - Mityana Charity

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#ChangeLives Campaign

 

 

 

At Water to Thrive, we get the privilege to partner with local NGOs to implement our water work. By working with partners who are familiar with the countries and the communities in which we implement work, we are able to better understand the water need, the best ways to address it, and we are able to work efficiently and effectively to construct sustainable water wells.

One of our on-the-ground partners is Mityana Charity. Mityana Charity is based in Uganda and its mission is to “support and positively contribute to the lives of vulnerable Ugandans to attain full recognition in the society, through provision of Education Support, Poverty Relief Initiatives, Health systems Strengthening, Human Rights Awareness and embracing Christian Values.”

Mityana has a wide-range of specialties, and water is at the top of the list. They bring in local partners who know the geological and hydrological ins and outs, the land and villages, and the people so that together we are able to #ChangeLives in the communities where we work.

Want to help us #ChangeLives ? Contribute to our eight-week #ChangeLives campaign here. Put #ChangeLives in the "In honor of" box.

 

Join Us This Summer

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Ethiopia 2016

Ever dreamt about going to the diverse, dynamic continent of Africa? Now is your chance.

Water to Thrive is going to Ethiopia June 9th-25th for its supporters to get a firsthand view into Ethiopia’s rich culture and Christian heritage and we want YOU to join.

You’ll be able to witness the transformation that clean, safe water brings to the communities we serve, build lasting relationships with the Ethiopians you meet, and see all the remarkable sights Ethiopia has to offer. It will be a life-changing experience for a life-saving mission!

If you are interested or have additional questions, contact Susanne Wilson at susanne@watertothrive.org or 512-206-4495.

 

#ChangeLives Campaign - Gashaw

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#ChangeLives

As we work to build wells and ‪#‎ChangeLives‬, Water to Thrive is fortunate to employ Gashaw Semeneh, our Ethiopia Project Manager. For the last two years, Gashaw has brought a wealth of experience and a compassionate heart to our in-country work, and has played an instrumental role in the progress we’ve seen in identifying and completing water projects.

Here Gashaw introduces himself in his own words:

I was born and raised in Addis Ababa. My father was a famous photographer and had a chance to serve both Emperor Haile Selassie I and later the socialist regime, taking wonderful shots for four decades. Being raised in this kind of family, taking photo shots and recording video using professional cameras were my hobbies while I was in secondary school and even in University.

After I studied Geology and joined a private water well drilling firm in 2002, a life-changing moment happened in my life. I started to realize the scarcity and unavailability of safe drinking water in rural Ethiopia. Furthermore, it was vivid that the burden was more on the women who travel in some places a half-day or more to fetch water from an unprotected water source, exposed to rape and abduction. In addition, schoolgirls miss class for fetching water and helping their mothers, and so are found to be poor in school performance.

From that time on, for more than 10 years, I have had chances to work for many private water construction companies and local and International NGOs. Then another life-changing moment happened in my life in Spring 2014, which was joining Water to Thrive. 

I am now the W2T project manager based in Ethiopia, to oversee site selections and the design and construction qualities of spring development, hand-dug wells, shallow boreholes, and pipeline expansion projects built by W2T local implementing partners in East Africa. Furthermore, to ensure the sustainability of the projects, I give trainings to the local partner staffs, community members, and local leaders.

Currently, I am managing the huge project in Ambo, 126 kilometers west of Addis Ababa. When it is finished, it will have the capacity to provide nearly 500 hundred school children with safe water, with gender-sensitive and disability-inclusive pit latrines, and 1100-plus rural communities will have safe water with CLTS and operation and maintenance issue trainings.

 

Living Water & Lent - Elton

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Living Water & Lent

 

“The difference between a facility that has clean water and one that does not is like night and day,” he said.

“It makes it much easier for me and my nurses to do our jobs. Even the diseases we see are completely different.”

On the wall of the Lundamatwe Dispensary where Dr. Mwaikuju is currently working is a list of the Top Ten Diseases. Water-related illnesses are prominent of the list.

“Unfortunately, because we treat people from such a wide area, not all of them have access to safe water,” he said. “But, if you were to visit a dispensary where there was no clean water, you would see water-related illnesses dominate the list.”

“There would also be higher numbers of people suffering from those diseases,” he added.

According to Dr. Mwaikuju, it is only at facilities that have clean water that a water-related condition such as diarrhea does not occupy the top spot. In Lundamatwe, that position is consistently taken by upper respiratory infections which are most often caused by cooking with charcoal inside unventilated huts.

In addition to the impact it has on illness in the areas surrounding the dispensary, the facility’s Water to Thrive-funded well also improves treatment in several ways.

Facilities without clean water are forced to purchase bottled cleaning supplies which is cost prohibitive and can even place treatment out of the reach of many patients.

 “All of the cleaning supplies have to been purchased in bottles and brought in by vehicle,” Dr. Mwaikuju said. “In those situations, even the materials we use for basic cleaning have to be brought in. It’s expensive and if a shipment doesn’t arrive on time, the doctor is forced to ask the patient to bring their own cleaning supplies.”

In many cases, this is beyond the financial reach of the patient and they end up going untreated.

In recent months, Dr. Mwaikuju has noticed a slight surge in the number of people seeking treatment for water-related conditions. He attributes this increase to the rapid population growth of the nearby city of Iringa.

“The area serviced by this dispensary has had more than 8,000 people move into it during the past few years,” he said. “It makes things harder but at least we have clean water. I hate to think where we’d be if we didn’t have that.”

The dispensary is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Dr. Mwaikuju and his staff of three nurses average 250 consultations a month.

If you want to be apart of helping transform a community with the gift of water, consider donating now!

#ChangeLives

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#ChangeLives

 

Yesterday was World Water Day, which this year observed the theme of water and work. 

Here at Water to Thrive, we celebrated World Water Day by launching our ‪#‎ChangeLives‬ campaign. In the next eight weeks, we want to inspire 100 donors to give at least $50 each to support the foundation of our mission ... to support water and work.

As World Water Day made clear yesterday, water is work. In our case, water provides jobs for those who build our actual wells in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda. Having a well for clean, safe water in a village frees women from the burden of walking miles each day, giving them the time to develop enterprises to support their families, buy school supplies for their children, and to find dignity in their lives. To ensure the quality and sustainability of our work in Ethiopia, we employ an Ethiopian project manager, who strengthens our oversight and our partnerships there and who, by virtue of being Ethiopian, fully understands the importance of our work. Finally, we provide work here in Austin for a small team of committed, dedicated employees who are an essential part of our mission.

Usually we come to you asking for gifts that will allow us to build wells. We are proud of our "100 percent pledge" that all donations designated for water go to water. This campaign is only a little bit different. Every dollar we raise for operations allows us to invest seven dollars in water projects. Operations are the support structure, here in Austin and on the ground in Africa, that allows us to spread the word about our mission, engage our donors, work with our partners, identify our water projects, and then ultimately to build wells and change lives. 

This is important enough to the life of the organization that we have a dedicated group of supporters, Water Angels, who give $1,000 a year specifically for operations. As part of the #ChangeLives campaign, we've set a goal of motivating one person each week to become a new Water Angel. 

To give, please go to watertothrive.org/donate. Check the "in honor of" button and put "#ChangeLives" in the space provided, and your gift will make the work of providing clean water and changing lives a reality. 

To become a Water Angel, whether as an individual or part of a group or business, please contact us directly through a message here or an e-mail to Executive Director Susanne Wilson at susanne at watertothrive dot org. 

To help spread the word about our #ChangeLives campaign, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Every Wednesday, we'll mark ‪#‎WaterWednesday‬with a campaign update and more information about our work and our needs. And please, share our posts. Let your friends know about our mission, and this opportunity to strengthen our foundation. 

 

Living Water & Lent - Jacob

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Living Water & Lent

 

 

Because of a severe leg injury, he requires a cane to walk so Jacob needs to leave his hut by 6am to open the well on time at 7am. More than 400 people from six small villages are counting on him and he’s not about to let them down.

“They all voted for me to be the caretaker and I am determined to do a good job and help the well last for a long time,” Jacob said. “I can’t be late. People need their water.”

Mornings are a busy time in the Menya home as Jacob must help get his three youngest children get ready for school before he can start the one-mile walk to the borehole.

The daily walk to the borehole is bittersweet. In 2007, Jacob lost his wife of 35 years to a water-related illness.

 “I am very, very happy that we now have this clean water and that my friends and neighbors will not have to suffer like my family did,” he said. “But, I’m sad it didn’t come in time to save my wife.”

The villages’ old source of drinking water was a lake in the middle of a swamp about two miles away. Diarrhea, worms, typhoid and other water-related were a part of everyday life. Deaths were not uncommon.

“It was disgusting but it was all we had,” Jacob said.

His job requires him to unlock the pump at 7am and lock it up again at 6pm. He is also responsible for keeping the area around the well clean and offering hygiene and sanitation tips to users.

For this, he receives a monthly stipend of 20,000 Ugandan Shillings (about $10) which comes out of the maintenance fees collected from people using the well. On average, families contribute 1,200 shillings a month (about 50 cents).

He also gets all the clean water he can drink which is a perk of the job as far as Jacob is concerned.

“This water tastes great!”

Funded by Water to Thrive and constructed by International Lifeline fund, the Baroromo Borehole opened in October 2014. It is located in Uganda’s Apac District.

With only a few weeks left in lent, consider donating now to provide wells in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania and to make an impact in a life like Jacob's. 

 

Living Water & Lent - Wahid

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Living Water and Lent

 

From the time she was born, she regularly suffered from water-related diseases contracted by drinking water collected from the stream that borders Akuweini, her village in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region.

With the nearest health post over an hour’s walk away, getting treatment for these conditions was time consuming and costly. She almost died several times from diarrhea simply because it was too challenging to seek treatment.

Then, about 10 years ago, a neighboring village installed a hand-dug well, meaning Abraha and her family would not have to drink from the unprotected stream any more. But this new source of health would exact a toll on Abraha in other ways.

In spite of the fact the well was only half an hour away, it was not unusual for Abraha to spend eight hours a day collecting her water.

“We weren’t the only two villages getting our water from the well and the line to fill our jerry cans was always very long,” Abraha said. “It was very common to wait for six hour or more to get to the front of the line.”

During the dry season, the flow of water was so reduced that each household was limited to a single five gallon jerry can per day.

“It was never enough. I have a husband and five children and we were always thirsty,” Abraha said. “It was better than being sick all the time but it was still very hard.”

Thankfully, since December 2014, all of Abraha’s water problems disappeared in one foul swoop when a Water to Thrive-funded hand-dug well was installed in her village five minutes from her house.

According to Abraha, she’s healthier and happier than she’s ever been. She’s also come up with a unique way to spend her newfound time by rural Ethiopian standards.

“I’m going to spend that time looking after my first grandchild,” she said. “I never really had the opportunity to do this with my children and I love it.”

If you would like to see radical life change for woman around the world just like Wahid, consider donating to Water to Thrive now!

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