Water to Thrive’s work depends on partners in the countries we serve. The Relief Society of Tigray, or REST, is one of our most active and long-term partners, and visits with them are always packed and productive. Kendall describes a day working with REST.

Today was our first day in the field with our partner, REST. Even on our first day I could tell that the phrase “there’s no rest with REST” was too true. We’re staying in a city called Shire for today and will be visiting sites within the region of Tigray for the next few days.

Tigray is extremely rocky and mountainous and arid, so we constantly have to drink water and wipe the sweat off of our foreheads. Today’s sites weren’t too bad – we only had to hike to one of them – but the drive in and out was quite nervewracking. All of the roads are rocky and are almost directly on the edge of a cliff. So while you’re getting your African massage, you’re also terrified that at any moment the car will shoot off the cliff.

The other thing about Tigray is that the heat here is brutal – and that’s coming from a Texas girl. Standing in the sun at one of our sites for more than five minutes causes you to be drenched in sweat almost immediately. But that’s the reality for the people who live in these communities.

I’ve continually had to remind myself after jumping into the car to get in the AC, that these people don’t have AC, and that before the well was built, they didn’t have access to much water in this arid region. Let alone clean water. Even more – one of the community members was explaining to us that if someone got sick, they had to carry them five hours to the nearest clinic.

They had to carry them five hours.

And here I am, sore and complaining after carrying an eight-pound backpack for five hours (13.6 miles) on Monday.

Every day here I am reminded more and more of the many privileges we have in the US – today’s privilege is a car to take me to a clinic that’s five minutes away from my house.