Water to Thrive founder Dick Moeller is observing our Tenth Anniversary with a trip to Ethiopia to visit water projects from our decade of service and to strengthen the partnerships that will carry us into a sustainable future.
Today captures the essence of the W2T story…..we are visiting projects from 2008, 2010 and 2018, a total of five projects showing the full circle of changing lives.
We start our day with two new projects finished just a couple of months ago. They are located atop a high plateau two hours drive from Axum.
There is no road. Just a trail to reach the top….a 4-½ mile round trip hike. This is a great way to continue my training for the upcoming Mt. Kilimanjaro trek. The ascent here is about 800 feet to get to the top. The communities made many trips up and down this path to bring the necessary supplies to the top to build their projects……that’s ownership!
The first stop on top is Mai Gumbra. This project replaces a nearby open waterhole previously shared by the community and their animals.
I have enclosed a picture of the water committee at Gumbra to highlight their role in sustainablility. Seeing projects over a ten-year span on this trip really drives home the importance of the WASH committees.…They oversee the operation of the well and collect the maintenance fund. They ensure the operation of the well for the whole community over multi-generations.
A bit farther up the hill we arrive at the Shanbako project, where we get to install the plaque on the pump.
On the way to the well, we pass the local Ethiopian Orthodox Church not more than 100 yards from the project. We learn from the community that the local priest has blessed the well and regularly uses water from the project for baptism……a true blessing of clean water for the community!
Back to the future…..our next stop was Mariam Shewito, completed in 2008, among the first 12 wells funded by Triumphant Love Lutheran Church in Austin TX that launched our journey.
The sign is still there, although a bit worn. You can still make out TLLC on the blue line in the center.
This project has served the community continuously for more than 10 years, needing only minor repairs by the WASH committee. This is a real testament to the community’s commitment and the quality of work done by our implementing partner Relief Society of Tigray (REST).
Our final stop of the day is Mai Liham, completed in 2010. Grace Jackson, our intern from Valparaiso, got to jump in and help a young girl pumping water for her family. I had visited this project for an inauguration in 2010 and the project looks and functions as well today as it did back then.
Our day draws to an end in the field as the sun is setting on the horizon. On the way up the hill from the project, a group of children running ahead are captured in silhouette from the setting sun, and we are reminded of why clean water is so important……changing lives with good health and the hope of a better life.