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A Time to Remember

It’s the weekend we all look forward to... The kick-off to summer, filled with barbeques, pool time, or taking the boat out on the lake. A long weekend to kick back, relax, and start the summer season off right! However, Memorial Day is not just the unofficial beginning of summer (yay!) but a day of remembering the men and women who have died while serving our country.

We’re eager for all the adventure that summer holds, and we’re currently tending to the final preparations for our first trip of the year to Ethiopia next week. During this time, amongst all the goings-on, we make sure to take time and step back to reflect on the sacrifice that this holiday has been set aside to remember. We have been given so much by those who have fought and died for the freedoms we often take for granted. This year, as we’re simultaneously taking part in remembrance for our loved ones, and preparing to head to another country, we can’t help but be humbled by the luxuries we experience daily.

 

We are so fortunate for what we have been given. It’s easy to feel discouraged, sometimes guilty, because we reap the reward without partaking in the sacrifice. Using the gifts we have been given to benefit those who are still in the midst of struggle is part of the way we honor those who sacrificed for the comforts we enjoy. When you donate to Water to Thrive through our website, you always have the opportunity to make your donation in honor of, or in memory of, someone special. As you celebrate the joy and laughter this weekend, don’t forget to stop and send up a thank you. If you feel inclined, make a donation to honor those close to you who died to make a better life for you, whether by serving our country or in other ways. In doing so, you’ll be supporting an organization working to aid those in Africa who are still struggling to find a way to build something better for their loved ones. Happy Memorial Day!

 

 

 

 

3...2...1... Happy 2009?

Remember when Marty McFly time travelled for the first time in Back To The Future? You’d be hard pressed to find anyone that would pass up that opportunity. When the topic of time travel comes up in conversation, some might start thinking about all the things they would have done, or the things they’d try to change. Plus it’d just be a fun way to pass the time. We completely agree… And at Water to Thrive, we time travel a few times every year! Okay, it’s not exactly time travel, but it’s still a little weird and probably the closest you can get.

Internationally, the most widely used calendar is the Gregorian calendar. We use this calendar here in the United States, and in fact it’s so widely used that there are only four countries that don’t use it. You may have guessed by now what one of those countries may be. That’s right, in Ethiopia, it’s currently year 2009. Like we said, it’s a little weird.  

 


 

It may be because Ethiopia was independently settled, but regardless of why, the country uses their own Ethiopian calendar. It’s a solar calendar derived from the ancient Egyptian Calendar, that starts their year either September 11th or 12th. As advertised in the poster above (which was hanging in the lobby of one of our hotels in Ethiopia last fall), the calendar is made up of twelve months of 30 days, and a 13th month of five or six extra days depending on the year. The discrepancy between the calendars is due to disagreements on the correct calculation of the timing of the Annunciation, which marks the announcement to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive the baby Jesus by the angel Gabriel. Because of these differing beliefs, Ethiopia will always be seven to eight years behind us.

 

Because a lot of the wells we build are in Ethiopia, we spend a lot of time there. It often makes us stop and ask ourselves, “What’s the point of time?” Not to make your head hurt too much, but does it really matter that we believe it’s 2017 here, and Ethiopians believe that it’s 2009 there? If the answer is “No,” then does time really matter? Of course it does to some extent, but when you realize that time was created by civilizations as a tool for measuring, it helps put things in perspective. We put so much value and importance on time, and the passage of time, that we forget we’re the ones that give time the power to have significance. Everyday at Water to Thrive we try to focus our energy not on time, but on people, because the people are what’s significant.

 

We love sharing our trip experiences you, but are always happy when people travel with us to experience it for themselves. If you feel like time is moving too fast, then come relive 2009 and experience first hand the 13-months of sunshine Ethiopia has to offer.

 

 

  

Happy Fasika

Traditional sanctuary at an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian church

 

Today, as Good Friday ushers us into a weekend of togetherness and remembrance, we wanted to stop and take a moment to reflect. Often the commercial holiday of Easter casts a shadow over the true meaning of the holiday. We forget that Lent is a precursor, to remember how Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. Good Friday is to honor the day of the crucifixion when Jesus sacrificed himself for us. And Easter Sunday is not just the event, but rather the resolution, and the day we celebrate His resurrection when all was made whole again. What stands out for us during this time of remembrance, is the fact that the sacrifice of Jesus was for all. It was for everyone, and in a way binds us all together, reminding each of us that we are more similar than we are different.

Traveling to the remote villages in rural Ethiopia is a stark contrast to the luxury we enjoy here in the States. At first it can feel overwhelming and out of place. However, once you begin interacting with the people, it is a comforting reminder that while circumstances may divide us, humanity bonds us. The longest standing religion in Ethiopia is the Orthodox Church, and enjoying the community of shared faith in God is always an uplifting activity during our trips.

As we enter this weekend, we have our brothers and sisters on our mind. Because Ethiopia follows a different calendar (more fun blog posts to come on that soon!) they often celebrate Easter, or Fasika, weeks after we do. However, this year the Celebrations fall on the same day for both of our calendars, and we’re so excited to celebrate together. Culturally, the birth of Jesus (Christmas) tends to be the more focal holiday for us here in the States. In Ethiopia, while Christmas is celebrated, the larger annual celebration is Fasika. The Orthodox belief is that the Death and Resurrection of Jesus was the fulfillment of the word of God.

That’s definitely worth celebrating! To complete the fasting of Lent, Ethiopians attend church on Good Friday, and begin the preparations for the coming celebration, when the fast will be broken. Where we tend to celebrate the main event Sunday Morning, the main religious service in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church takes place on Saturday night. It is a somber, sacred service with music and dancing until the early hours of the morning. At 3:00 a.m. many return home to break their fast, and a chicken is slaughtered at midnight for the symbolic occasion. Later in the morning, after everyone has rested, a sheep is then slaughtered and the feasting and celebration of Easter Sunday begins.

This weekend, while you celebrate with your friends, family, and loved ones, take a moment and remember our Ethiopian brothers and sisters who are celebrating with us. While the distance between us may seem great, remember that there’s more that connects us, like the love of Jesus, than the geography that separates us.
From all of us at W2T, Happy Easter to our American friends, and Happy Fasika to our Ethiopian friends!

 

 

 

World Water Day 2017

 

In the age of social media, we’re suddenly aware of every silly celebration like International Talk Like A Pirate Day and urged to celebrate “accAHRRrrdingly”. While I’m just as much of a fan of National Send A Card To A Friend Day as I’m sure you are, today we wanted to stop and really focus on why today, March 22nd, World Water Day exists.

Naturally this is an important day to us here at Water To Thrive. Sometimes it’s more fun to focus on National Cake Day (November 26th in case it’s not on your calendar like it is on mine), than to stop and think about not having clean water, which is the reality for so many globally. WWD was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993. Currently over 663 million people worldwide are living without a safe water supply close to home. That’s an overwhelming statistic that is hard to comprehend let alone know how to react to. The UN however, didn’t designate today as WWD just in an effort to raise awareness. They designated it as a day of action.

 

It’s easier to feel like you’re contributing by biking to work on Earth Day or buying chocolate for a loved one at the grocery store for Valentine's Day. But how do you “celebrate” World Water Day? We’ve all been at this point of overwhelmed inaction at some point. The gravity of the problem is so big that we get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing because it’s easier. We get it, 663 million is a big number. But so is 400,000, which is the number of lives Water To Thrive has been able to impact through the wells we’ve built in remote villages in Africa. Each well that we build costs $5,000 to fully fund, another big number. What we so often forget is that numbers are made significant by the context of time, quantity or bigger amount they are put into. For instance, 20 years is much harder to wrap our minds around than 1 year. 663 million people is basically impossible to fathom, but 7 people is manageable. Depending on who you are, $5,000 might seem like a fortune, but $70 for some of us is the coffee budget for the month.

 

Today, on this day of action, we don’t want to focus on the big numbers - sometimes it’s more than we know what to do with. But a number is constructed of lots of smaller numbers working together to get to the bigger number, and that’s where our focus lands. Our reality, and our focus today, is that $70 provides clean water for a family of 7 for 20 years. Those are 3 small numbers with a huge impact - not on numbers, but on people’s lives. If $70 is still too large for you to consider, what about just $10 which provides one person the gift of clean water? We’re all human and we’re all responsible for each other. Today we’re not focusing on wells, we’re focusing on people.

 

On this World Water Day, commit to changing lives through clean water. Whether you help 7 people today or just one, know that it ALL matters. You have the power to make a difference. Donate now by going to www.w2tgiving.org.

 

Happy SXSW

 

If you’re here in Austin, TX with us this week, then you may be enjoying all the SXSW festivities. Music has become such a big part of the culture here in Austin, that it got us to thinking about how music plays such a big role in people's’ lives across the globe. An experience we always love is getting to immerse ourselves in the the Ethiopian culture when we go visit the wells we’re working on in Africa. We’d be lying if we said that the singing and dancing that takes place for all occasions there isn’t one of our favorite parts of our trips.

 

If you’re heading to any concerts this coming weekend, you’ll have a wide range of styles to choose from. While music is loved in our society, it doesn’t have quite the same traditional cultural roots that it does in many other countries. Ethiopia is a country that is a musically traditional country. While in addition there is still contemporary, or popular music, these musicians and artists still sing the more traditional songs of the country as well. Here in the U.S. people tend to have a music genre they prefer, where most audiences in Ethiopia still choose to listen to both popular and traditional styles of music.

 

The survival of more traditional music could be attributed to the lack of availability. Much of Ethiopia is extremely poor and the remote villages are hard to access. Because of this, tribes and different ethnic groups are associated with their own unique sounds. Click on the image below to view a video that Jazzy, our Communications Coordinator, took while visiting the Dorze Tribe in Ethiopia in November.

 

 


 

As expected in the bigger cities, like Addis Ababa or Dire Dawa, a wide variety of artists and music is more readily available. Internationally, artists like Gigi have brought Ethiopian music to a more popular and wider audience in more recent recent years, especially here in the United States. Check out The Best of Gigi here to get a better idea of the variety of Ethiopian music today. In true cultural form, Gigi also continues to sing the traditional songs she was raised on. Click here to listen to Gigi sing the the traditional song "Gole" from her 2003 album Zion Roots in Agaw, the language of Gigi's father's village.

 


  So this weekend when you’re out amongst the SXSW crowds, stop and listen to a new artist you might not have made time for in the past. Or if you’re ready for a new experience altogether, dive into the sounds of an exotic new country like Ethiopia.

 

 

 

We're Ready for an Exciting 2017

Happy New Year! Yes, we know we are nearly a month in, and the timeline for the greeting has passed. However, with our first blog post of the year, we wanted to welcome you accordingly.


At Water to Thrive, we’re in full swing getting ready for an exciting year ahead. So, we wanted to take a moment to formally invite you to come on our journey with us this year. It’s going to be full of excitement and possibility, and we want each of you along for the ride.

 

This year we’re excited to provide regular blog updates, so you can keep up with all that we have going on here in Austin, the U.S., Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda. We are able to bless people with the life-giving gift of clean water, because all of you have blessed us. It is with this grateful heart that we embark on the endeavor to keep you up to date on all the ways your generosity is impacting others, both near and far. We plan on having lots of fun along the way too!

 

If you‘ve been following our Facebook and Instagram accounts, than you already know that we have three trips currently in the works. If you didn’t know, here’s what you missed:

 

  • We are thinking about visiting Germany to experience some of the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and then on to Ethiopia. This trip would take place in the latter part of May to early June, however, for this trip to be viable, we will need at least 9 travelers.

 

  • The second trip of the summer will be 2-3 weeks in June or July. We will travel to the Tigray region of Ethiopia and visit many of our completed projects, as well as some yet to be constructed wells.

 

  • Finally, we have been working on a Global Grant for ten Rotary-sponsored well projects in Ethiopia. In November, we would love to take a group of Rotarians along with us to experience firsthand the impact that Rotary is having on people across the globe.

 

If you're interested in our 2017 trips, please email us at team@watertothrive.org, and follow our accounts to stay up to date. You can also find more information about these trips in our January Newsletter. We’re excited to have some of you along, while the rest of us stay connected virtually through our Travel Blog.

 

We are so excited to share with you what is certain to be an exciting year! Check back regularly for updates, stories, travel posts, and so much more. As always, please feel free to share our posts with your friends and family. We want to partner with you in educating, and inspiring, others about the work God is doing through clean water in rural Africa. Looking forward to connecting with each of you again soon... Here we go!

 

 

Water to Thrive Selects New Executive Director

 AUSTIN, Texas -- Water to Thrive, a faith-based non-profit dedicated to relieving the water crisis in rural Africa, is pleased to announce the selection of Susanne Wilson as its new executive director. Wilson, chosen by Water to Thrive’s board and current president after a lengthy selection process, will be the first executive director in the organization’s six-year history.
 
“After six years of volunteer leadership, the Board of Water to Thrive believes that it is time to have a full-time, dedicated Executive Director leading the organization,” said Dick Moeller, president and founder of Water to Thrive. “This appointment will dramatically increase our ability to serve more people, giving us greater capacity to reach those with a heart to support our mission and providing continuity of leadership to ensure Water to Thrive’s long-term success.”
 
Wilson comes to Water to Thrive from an eight-year appointment as Executive Director of Henderson Community College Foundation in Henderson, Kentucky, and as board chair of Companion Community Development Alternatives and a member of Rotary International, has been deeply engaged in work to alleviate the global water crisis.
 
“Susanne is a great match for Water to Thrive,” Moeller said. “She is an experienced, successful non-profit Executive Director, and her work to address the water crises in Africa and Central America demonstrates her passion for serving people in developing countries. We are excited about the future of Water to Thrive under Susanne’s leadership.”
 
Wilson’s years of experience in non-profit and education leadership include executive planning, administration, communications and marketing, development, financial oversight, and higher education. She received her MBA from Auburn University and is further certified in fundraising management by the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Philanthropy. In her work with Rotary International, she served as chair of an international water project and on the board of Rotary Club of Evansville.
 
“Joining Water to Thrive gives me a tremendous opportunity to align my passion for making an impact with my background in philanthropy,” Wilson said. “I have witnessed what having access to clean, safe water means for people in developing nations – it provides hope and unlocks human potential. I look forward to taking the mission and service of Water to Thrive to new heights.”

How New Water Technology Can Shape Africa’s Future.

Progress is on the way for many African nations along the Nile River. It is unprecedented for the government, the private sector and for the welfare of the people to be put side by side, except for in the new and innovative plan created by the leaders of Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan. New ideas are bringing modern water technology to a region where change has slowly been advancing into the communities through small projects. Water to Thrive is one of just a couple non-profits dedicated to solely bringing in new water technology (water wells) to the communities in need  while at the same time specifically meeting their individual water problems. Although the agreement is preliminary, but this is a step in the right direction to bring basic needs to rural Africa. W2T is anticipating for these changes to happen in the next couple of years so that we can better help the communities through the new dam that the Ethiopian government is constructing along the Nile River. Be on the lookout for news about these countries incredible partnership! Read more on the Egyptian based news source, Egyptian Streets.

You don’t have to wait until the project begins to help, you can start right now! Water to Thrive accepts donations and campaigns year-round from schools, churches, individuals, or maybe just a group of friends and family members that want to raise funds towards a good cause. Contact lizzie@watertothrive.org to begin!

 

 

A Little Time Makes a Big Difference...The United States 100 Years Ago: Then and Now

Have you thought of how much has changed in the world around you? Health, economic, and social statuses have continued to improve in developed countries for the past couple of years. It’s time for W2T’s partner countries (Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania) to get in on this too! Now imagine what is possible for Africa. Global aid flowing into Africa can catapult the start to changes that are capable of occurring! Here are a couple of interesting facts of the U.S. 100 years ago to put into perspective:
 
                                                    
·       The average life expectancy for men was 47 years.
·       Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.
·       Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
·       The average US wage in 1910 was 22 cents per hour.
·       The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
·       More than 95 percent of all births took place at home.
·       Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write and only 6 percent
of all Americans had graduated from high school.
 
Many of these are occurring in Africa today: low life expectancy, low literacy rate, and low income. But with continued progress by outside organizations dedicated to improving the basic needs such as clean water and good health, the countries can see some change! Clean and accessible water wells play a huge rule. The literacy rate increases when there is more time to spend on going to school than in walking long distances to get water. Extension of life expectancy because there is clean water!! And income may increase because of the greater opportunity to go to school.

Let’s see what just a couple of years can do to impact Africa! 

Ebola and Clean Water: The Connection

Read the article below on Ebola and the clean water crisis.  Water to Thrive knows clean, safe water can help during a health crisis...as well as help prevent a health crisis. You can make an impact. Get involved with Water to Thrive today!

(Read the article here)

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