Another two long days in the field left this gal a little crispy around the edges. Walking in the African sun for hours is not for the fair skinned. I have been using “we” and although there are no donors on this trip, it is still “we.” Gashaw Simeneh is Water to Thrive’s hydrogeologist and man on the ground. He is Ethiopian and has a strong background in WASH programs and water projects. I always take his a wife a little something as I know raising two small children, working and going to school must be very stressful especially when her husband is gone 60% of the time. Gashaw is constantly checking on the water projects traveling around Ethiopia and to Tanzania and Uganda.
The “we” I talk about also include our partner organizations who are NGOs. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church Development is our partner is this northwest part of Ethiopia. Most of our partners are involved in development work and EOC – DICAC’s largest project is working with refugees. I was curious if, like in the U.S., some people think development and aid should be for the citizens vs. refugees. It was interesting to discover that their thinking is that God is watching and that they may be in the same position in the future, so even though Ethiopia is a poor country, they help their neighbors. EOC-DICAC also works in other areas including WASH (of course), Health and Nutrition, Education, Livelihood, Peace and polio eradication.
I’ve said it before, but water is about more than health. It is about gender equality, peace and economic development. One village we visited today shared that now that they aren’t spending the majority of their time walking for water, they are producing handicrafts. The women will sell their crafts in the local market and use the proceeds to buy livestock like a goat or chickens or sheep. They will then raise the livestock to sell in the market using the proceeds to pay for new clothes, school fees and food.
At a well funded by Triumphant Love Lutheran Church, the birthplace of Water to Thrive, a young mother shared how her life has changed. Previously, she was only able to wash clothes once a month and bathe once every three weeks. Now, she can bathe and wash clothes every three days.
I’m reminded how fortunate I am that washing clothes, bathing and simply having a glass of safe, clean water is easy and fairly thoughtless, yet so many of our fellow brothers and sisters suffer daily because of the lack of access to clean water. I’m also reminded that we can all do something.
We will now head south and then west of Addis to another group of projects with another partner. Please pray for our safe journey and the strength to continue this work as each village reminds us that their neighbors need a well. But for now, a good night!