A visit to maternity clinics with partner Mekane Yesus

After the heat and humidity in Tanzania and Uganda and the dry heat of Northwest Ethiopia, it was a nice change of climate to move to Hawassa in Southern Ethiopia. Although moving south would make it seem that the temperature would move upwards, being in the highlands means the temperatures are much more temperate and even a touch of coolness in the early mornings.

The highlands are beautiful, green and lush. They remind me of being someplace tropical. As in many parts of Ethiopia, each is distinct in climate, dress, foods, and even language.

One village surprised us with clothing reflective of the the traditional style of Sidama. Also, distinct to the area are their homes which are made of beautifully woven, dried grass or reeds.

However, the need for water is ever present. A benefit of the highlands is there are many springs which is one of the project types that Water to Thrive supports.  When a spring exists naturally, it can be capped, filtered and can then provide a clean and safe water source. Instead of a syphon pump used on hand-dug and borehole wells, a spring consists of a reservoir with taps.

Water to Thrive’s partner in southern Ethiopia (and in other areas) is Mekane Yesus South Central Ethiopian Synod. Mekane Yesus is the Lutheran Church and its development arm has operations across the country of Ethiopia.

In addition to wells or springs in individual villages, Water to Thrive is working with Mekane Yesus to bring water to maternal health clinics (134 is the goal). The project is partly being funded by a private foundation.

I visited some of the clinics to see the current conditions of the water situation. Deplorable is the most fitting word to describe what I saw. My heart breaks knowing that women give birth without access to clean water, toilets, showers or anything that is necessary for a sanitary environment. In fact, instruments were sterilized using buckets sitting on the floor that were filled with water and bleach.

The funding in place is not enough to complete all of the work, but faith is something I’ve leaned on when I’ve faced unfavorable odds. I know in my heart that there are many people who have a heart and the ability to make a huge difference in the lives of our sisters who are in desperate need of a little humanity.

This is the end of my trip. As I prepare to return to my home where water is always there with the turn of the faucet, I am thankful for what I have. However, I’m reminded that there is more work to be accomplished so that all God’s children receive the basic human right of clean, safe drinking water.  – Susanne Wilson