Our first #GivingTuesday well finished! Let's go for two!



We are so blessed to have such amazing supporters! In the last hour, you have given us another $570, which puts us over the goal line for our first well!

Now let's get cracking on well number two! Another $4,100 and we ... YOU ... will have funded two water projects today!




Let's finish the first well!



Just a few hours into #GivingTuesday, we are already well on our way to the halfway mark! As of noon, our wonderful supporters had made gifts totaling $4,525.00!

At least one of those gifts was made by an employee of a company that matches charitable donations, which gave the total a nice boost. Check with your employer and see if they'll do a matching gift, then go to and make your donation. We'll send you a receipt, which you can give your employer. It's simple and it doubles your impact!

Your GivingTuesday to-do list: Give money, share news, build wells, change lives


Good morning!  It's #GivingTuesday, and Water to Thrive is celebrating this global day of giving with a special goal of raising $10,000 today! That $10,000 will fund two water projects in rural Africa, bringing the blessing of clean, safe water to 500 people in communities in need.

We hope you will join us, by giving what you can and by sharing the word that we are taking part in this worldwide fundraiser with the good of two wells in mind.

If you would like to give, please go to and make your way through the form. All donations given today will count towards our goal. If you would like to highlight your gift, check the "in honor of" button and put "Giving Tuesday" in the space provided. No amount is too small...if 400 supporters give $25 each, we will meet our goal.

If you would like to help spread the word, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share our posts with your own friends and followers. We will have Giving Tuesday campaign updates online at various point throughout the day, and at the end of the day, a final report and note of thanks. 

Let your friends know about our mission, and this once-a-year opportunity to make a significant impact. If you would like to gather them together to make an even bigger gift, you can even consider 
starting a Water to Thrive-Giving Tuesday campaign of your own

It's going to be a busy day, and we hope you can help us reach our goal. Once again, we thank you for your financial, emotional, and prayerful support. Together, today, we can build two wells and change 500 lives.


Shop for a Drop!

We know you're looking forward to our well campaign for ‪#‎GivingTuesday‬ tomorrow, but you can help us on ‪#‎CyberMonday‬ too!

Don't forget, if you shop at Amazon, start at, and choose Water to Thrive as your charity! We receive a percentage of your purchase at no cost to you.

All you have to do is type into your browser, then, when it says "Choose your charity" or "Change your charity," search "Water to Thrive" and click Select. That's it! Your holiday shopping can change lives in Africa.


Visiting Lalibela


Our guide today was Betaye, and he led us to the World Heritage Site of the famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. The churches are sometimes listed as the eighth wonder of the world. 

According to legend, the medieval king Lalibela had the churches carved as a holy pilgrimage site alternative to Jerusalem. The churches are carved from solid rock starting from the top down and then inside and up. Today, the churches remain active places of worship. Holy men are present in each of the churches, providing tourists a willing photo opportunity. 

The last church that was carved, and the most famous, is St. George. It is the only church carved in the shape of a cross. Along the walls outside the churches are holes that served as prayer rooms, monk homes, and tombs for unlucky pilgrims. A fertility pool exists at one of the churches that aided in the conception of a child if a woman bathed in its waters.

Betaye jokingly provided us with three suggestions for getting to the entrance of St. George Church; diving into the baptismal, climbing down a ladder, or using the stairs. We opted for the more traditional option down to the entrance, but we did brave scaling the wall as our exit! 

Our evening ended at the Ben Abeba Restaurant, which is precariously perched on the side of the cliff overlooking the valley below. It seem to be a Dr. Seuss-inspired design, and is owned and operated by a Scotswoman. The setting was perfect as we watched the sun descend over the almost surreal patchwork of the landscape below.


Exploring Addis


 W2T Executive Director Susanne Wilson is visiting our partners and projects in Africa. After several days in Uganda, she has been joined in Ethiopia by W2T supporter and veteran traveler Nancy Lehmann-Carssow.


After Nancy arrived this morning, we spent the day exploring the city. Our driver, Mulat, drove us through the labyrinth of streets that make up the Addis Ababa market.  The market offers an explosion of colors and smells and items for sale. The market is arranged in categories such as jewelry, pots and pans, cooking oil, spices, almost any item a person might desire. One whole section of the market is dedicated to recycled items including tires (used for making shoes), jerry cans, electrical parts, car parts..any kind of parts of anything. 

In addition to exploring the market, we witnessed the diversity that exists in Addis Ababa by the churches dotting its skyline; mosques, Greek Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Armenian, and Catholic. Ethiopia appears to enjoy a religious tolerance unparalleled in many countries in Africa. 

According to Nancy, the traffic in Addis makes the traffic of Cairo look calm. The horn is the tool of the trade for drivers.  Constant honking and dodging people, other vehicles, and the occasional donkey are all part of the constant movement of vehicles in Addis. 

After a bit of freshening up, we were treated to a traditional Ethiopian dinner and dancers in the style of Ethiopia. The dancers use their necks, shoulders, and heads and the movement is unlike any style of dancing I’ve ever witnessed. It is as though the dancers are void of bones. The buffet dinner offers both fasting and non-fasting goods. The non-fasting items were non-animal products, mostly vegetables and salads, and the injera with shiro (made of chickpeas and spices), which is are traditional foods. The dinner was accompanied by honey wine, which is a sweet, light yellowish colored wine made from the local honey. 

Tomorrow we are traveling to Lalibela, a World Heritage Site that is home to the famous rock-hewn churches.


Our last day in Uganda


The weather forecasts I checked before leaving the United States were very misleading. It has been extremely hot and humid in Uganda, interspersed with rain showers that provide a nice respite from the heat. The people use the resources they have available to them, taking advantage of the sun to dry the bricks they make from the red clay earth before curing them in the heat of a low fire. 

The sun also aids in drying coffee beans, vegetables such as cassava, and other foods. Drying is essential, since there is no cold food storage. 


As I was riding through the rural areas to visit water points, I noticed small solar panels sitting outside of their huts, which are used to provide power for low wattage lights and powering cell phones. 


One of the aspects of Water, Hygiene and Sanitation training provided to the villagers where water projects are supported is the education about latrines.  The villagers construct pit latrines using the same materials used to build their houses.  The education and training taught by our partner, International Lifeline Fund, is relayed through the use of pictures, drama, and the creation of songs.  Even the well site signage displaying the donors’ names and project partners use the back of the sign to instruct villagers on the correct and incorrect uses of the wells.


One of the differences I observed between Ethiopia and Uganda was the prevalence of bikes.  Bikes in Uganda are as common as donkeys in Ethiopia.  Bikes serve as transportation for people, jerry cans and anything else people need to get from one location to the next.

 As we prepare to leave Uganda, what will remain in my memory is the beautiful faces of the people and their quick smiles.



Auspicious signs for our partnerships


Our travels today took us to the northern part of Uganda to visit with our partner, International Lifeline Fund (ILF). We met with the local ILF staff and received a presentation on community health clubs. Community health clubs are created from the members of the local community and receive sanitation, health, and water training. The training is delivered via a community-based facilitator who delivers 20 trainings over a six-month period. Cultural change around water, sanitation, and hygiene is the ultimate goal. 

We also met with local water and development officials who collaborate with ILF across initiatives. One of those “only in Africa” moments occurred while we met with the local Chief Administrative Officer, when a baby goat entered the meeting and no one batted an eye. 

ILF also shared their stove project with us. We visited their stove factory and spoke with their Nepalese supervisor. The stoves are much more ecologically friendly, are more efficient, and reduce the smoke emitted and breathed in by the women who are responsible for cooking. The stove project has received international attention, as evidenced by the involvement of Notre Dame. The university is conducting research on the health benefits of the stoves, which currently cost $5 and are being implemented as part of the Health Club projects.

Finally, just as we were finishing our tour of the stove production, we observed the double rainbow seen at the top of the post, which we received as a positive sign of Water to Thrive’s partnership with ILF. 


Back to Africa: Day 1, Uganda


For the next two weeks, Water to Thrive Executive Director Susanne Wilson is traveling with our Ethiopia Project Officer, Gashaw Semeneh, to visit projects and partners in Uganda and Ethiopia. 

Today, Gashaw and I visited with Mityana Charity.  They are a nonprofit existing for over 20 years and supported mainly by donors from the UK. Our purpose in visiting with them was to determine whether they might be a potential future partner.  They focus on human rights, education, health, agriculture, and water. 


Geoffrey, Mitanya's Country Coordinator (center, above), arranged a variety of site visits, including a spring protection, hand-dug wells, and a borehole well that supported their coffee plantation, school, and surrounding community.

Some 280 students attend the school, including 24 girls and 18 boys who board there. The children learn the basic subjects, and also are exposed to an agricultural curriculum. The school uses the coffee plantation for hands-on experiences and a learning environment. In addition, the local farmers also learn from the coffee plantation as an example of model agricultural methods. 

The plantation serves as the school and coffee plantation workers’ food supply.  In addition to coffee, they grow corn, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, eggplant, and jackfruit (above), among others. Sales of the coffee support the plantation workers’ salaries, the school teachers’ salaries, and water project costs. 

After a day of visiting water project sites, the school, the plantation and talking with community beneficiaries, we had time to think about all we had observed on the long ride back to the Gately Inn. Avoiding potholes, mud puddles, boda bodas (above, the ubiquitous motorcycles transporting people, animals, and products), and other drivers offers the exciting experience we refer to as an African massage. Today's "massage" will most likely help us sleep even more soundly tonight. 



Happy New Year!


Melkam Addis Amet! 

That's "Happy New Year" in Amharic, the language of Ethiopia. Ethiopians are celebrating their New Year, or Enkukatash, today. It's an important day in the Ethiopian culture, as the New Year's festival also symbolizes the beginning of good harvest weather following the rainy months. The beautiful yellow Meskel daisies that are a symbol of the celebration can be seen blooming in the highlands, turning the hillsides to gold.

Ethiopia still follows the Julian calendar, established in 25 BC. The Julian calendar divides a year into 12 months of 30 days plus an extra month, Pagume, which is five or six days long depending on the year. The Julian calendar is seven years behind the Gregorian calendar used by most of the Western world, so when you see references in Ethiopia to 2008, you're actually up to date!

The New Year's celebration includes religious observances, a traditional meal of injera and wat (essentially bread and stew), and girls exchanging bouquets of daisies and singing songs. You can learn more about the customs of Enkutatash here ... there's even a recipe for doro wat, or chicken stew. 

We wish all of our Ethiopian friends blessings in the new year!

Syndicate content