So, every flight on a trip like this can be perfect….today Murphy’s law strikes and my departure from Makale to Addis is one hour late. I arrive in Addis at 10:30 to head to a propose project area with our implementing partner, ODA (Oromia Development Association). What I thought would be a 2 hour drive turns into about 3 ½ hours on a highway headed northwest out of Addis that is jam packed with trucks. I have never seen so many trucks carrying both full and empty sea shipment containers. This roads turns out to be the main supply route for Ethiopia’s connection to the sea in Djibouti. About half way between Addis and the project area, Juju, there is a large freight distribution terminal for goods coming from Djibouti. I think all the trucks in Ethiopia were headed there today.
Scripture: Ezekiel 36:23-28
Meditation: Israel sinned against God, and God was not pleased. But God the people of Israel, just as God promised.
Prayer: Dear God, Even though I make mistakes, thank you for your clean waters of forgiveness. Please help me as I make a new path. Amen.
A child washes their head in the refreshing water of the well.
Scripture: Isaiah 41:17-20
Meditation: God told God’s people that God would provide for their needs. We believe that this is true today: God provides. While God can work in many special ways, often God works through humans. We are called to be God’s hands and feet. How will we reach out today?
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for providing for your people. Please help us remember that we are your hands and feet. Let our actions show your providence to our friends in need.
Clean water opens up opportunities for people to make their own lives better.
Wow….did you know that it is 12-12-12….one of the most popular days this year to get married (I just heard this on BBC). But best of all, it is the birthday of Jillian, my granddaughter. Happy birthday Jillian!
Scripture: Isaiah 35:1-2, 6-7
Meditation: Jesus is coming! Can you hear the excitement in these verses about what God will bring about? About 2,000 years ago, Jesus came to refresh us and cleanse us like water in the desert. How does your knowledge of Jesus life bring you a fresh and new perspective? Can you think of ways to share the refreshing love of Christ?
Prayer: Jesus, we thank you for making all things new. Our time with you is like a drink of cold water. Please be with us in our personal "deserts" and the "deserts" around us. Amen.
This water deep underground will become a freshwater well.
Today is a driving day…..from Axum, southeast to Makale. W2T, over the last 3 years has funded 40-50 projects in a tabia called Senale, near Mekale through our implementing partners Glimmer and REST. Makale is also the headquarters of the REST organization. The drive takes about 5 ½ hours and we arrive in Makale about 1:30 pm. After a short rest stop, we head to the field to visit a couple of projects with the time remaining today.
Scripture: Matthew 13-21
Meditation: How many times have you heard about all of the negative things going on in the world and felt hopeless? How can we be salt and light in a world where the most vulnerable are targeted for atrocities, a world with so many natural disasters, a world that does not seem to value the dignity of the human person?
Prayer: Lord, help us to be the salt and light in a world that needs the seasoning of joy and the light of love. Amen.
You don't have to be the best in order to give your all.
Today we are still in the rugged Seglamen area of Tigray, visiting more projects with our implementing partners Glimmer and REST.
I can officially label today “Mountain Goat Day”
The picture above was the first one I took on the way to the projects……notice the mountain goat to the right of the woman carrying the jerry can. Little did I know at that time how appropriate it was! Today we visited four projects, two finished and two in progress. Three of the four projects had no road access to them.
In fact, our walk to these three projects always started at the rim of canyon and then proceeded down steep, rugged paths (sort of), between rocks and boulders. All three of these projects are located in a deep valley or riverbed, 300 to 400 feet below our starting point.
The first project we visit is May Kodo, a finished hang dug well located at the bottom of a river valley. You can see the finished project just across the river, with the stone wall surrounding and protecting the water project. In June of this year, our travel group was in this area and we witness the project technician blasting the rock in the well. Because it was at the end of the day then, we choose to see the work from the rim of the canyon. Today we make the 40 minute walk down and 1 hour walk out to meet the community and share greetings.
In June 2011, our travel group visited the May Koho community where we saw women and children gathering water from a spring feed pond that was being shared by the animals in the community as it was the only nearby water source. The spring provides plenty of water but it just became contaminated because it was unprotected. Because of the dire need, REST placed this project in the 2012 W2T Seglamen projects.
You can see from the picture above that construction of the reservoir for the spring protection system is well underway. When completed and capped, the reservoir will store 5,000 liters of water for use by the community and a cattle trough will be located down the hill (so that it is separated from the communities water source) to provide water for the livestock.
At the May Koho site, I had the pleasure of meeting Alganesh Berhe, shown in the picture above, seated on “her” project. Alganesh is 28 years old (completed the 10th grade) and worked for REST for 5 years and is a certified spring development technician. She supervises the construction, insures the quality of work, manages the logistics to meet the schedule and mobilizes the community to provide their help in construction. She manages 3-4 projects like May Koho each year……an incredible role model for the young girls in the communities she is serving. Amazing!
Our legs are weary after returning to the canyon rim for the second time, but we forge on to visit our third project at Enda Michael. Like May Kodo, this project is located near the river bed in a deep valley. It is a hand dug well that is under construction.
When we arrive, there are about 40 community members, both women and men, gathering stones to be used in the masonry lining of the well. You can see from the picture above the stones are not small. This is another great example of how much “sweat equity” the community invests in making the project possible.
While we visit with the community, the technician at Enda Michael is busy in the bottom of the well, drilling holes to place plastic explosives to break up the rock. We stick around to get to see the explosive set off with a loud bang! The topography in this river valley is solid dense rock, so each blast breaks loose about 10-12 inches of rock…..this has to be done many times to reach a depth of 30-35 feet.
Even more weary when we reach the top for the third time, we head toward our 4th and final project for the day. Fortunately, it is right on the way as we drive back to Axum.
As we approach the site, we are all distracted by the beautiful, natural painting God has created for us as we look across the canyon valley toward the south and the Simien Mountains. The different layers of the mountains in varying shades of blue are glorious and striking. The camera doesn’t do it justice, but I hope you can enjoy this moment with us. Besides the blessing of clean water, another one of God’s great gifts today!
Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-3
Meditation: A long time before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah proclaimed that a messiah was coming, and like a tree he would bear the fruit of wisdom, understanding, counsel and might, knowledge, and fear and delight in the Lord. How are these Messianic gifts growing in your life?
Prayer: Dear God, as we await the Messiah, help us to recognize the gifts of the spirit in ourselves and in the people around us. Amen.
Dancing in delight
This morning, I catch an early flight from Gondar to Axum, farther north in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. I am met by representatives of our implementing partners, Glimmer and Relief Society of Tigray (REST). REST has been a valued partner since the inception of W2T when we worked together to fund our first 12 project near Axum. Now REST is the largest non-government organization (NGO-not for profit) in Ethiopia that concentrates solely on water for rural communities in need. In 2013, they will have the capacity to complete 1,200 water projects in the Tigray region.
Tigray reminds me of some parts of Texas a lot. The picture above is typical of the countryside throughout Tigray…..hot, dusty, lots of rocks and few trees. With just a little bit of imagination, you could be looking at El Paso!
In 2012, W2T has funded 72 projects with REST. Most of those projects are located in the Seglamen area of Tigray, near Axum, with the remainder in Senale, near Mekele. All of the projects visited today are from the Seglamen area. Our first stop is the community of May Quo.
A year ago, we visited this same community to witness about 10 women and children gathers at this contaminated spring gather water. As the only water supply nearby, this watering hole was shared by livestock and people at the same time.
Today, no one is at the spring and we get to meet the Water Committee of May Quo, a shallow borehole project completed about 3 months ago. In visiting with the community, we learn that they are carrying only about 1 or 2 jerry cans to their homes per day, when then average family of 5 should be using 5 per day. They voice concern that the water source might run dry if they use too much (their spring use to run dry in the dry season!). Our partners at REST are quick to reassure them that the well has been properly sized for the 70 families using the project and they should use more of the clean water as it will improve the health of their families.
A short distance from May Quo, we stop to visit the project site for the community of Tahtay May Shum. As we walk to the project site, we pass the brackish green creek that serves as the community’s water source…..again totally contaminated and shared with the local livestock. The Tahtay May Shum hand dug well (HDW) is under construction and will be finished for use by the community in the next month. The well has required a lot of blasting as the construction crew hit solid rock almost immediately. The well is currently about 30 feet deep and the technician expected they would need to go another 10 feet or so
Our next stop requires about a 40 minute walk over some very rocky, hilly terrain and across several creeks. The May Gbta community is located in a valley that has no access by vehicle. As we descent into the valley we are reminded that the community contribution to this project many hours of back breaking work hauling the concrete, gravel and sand required to construct the HDW.
When we arrive at the site, it is in use by several families that have come to greet us and fetch water. We exchange greetings and they express their gratitude for gift of clean water. The head of the Water Committee reminds us that there are other communities that are close by that need water as well and asks that we consider their needs as well. The good news is that Glimmer and REST has a three year plan to have 100% water coverage for the Seglamen area, so they are assured that the community’s needs will be addressed.
Our final stop of the day is at the community of May Tsada. This project is another shallow borehole that was completed about six months ago. We were greeted by the smiling faces of the Water Committee who express their gratitude for the project and commented how important clean water is to the future of their community. They also share their saving passbook with us show their commitment of keeping the maintenance fund growing.
The guard for the project (also a member of the Water Committee) showed real ingenuity to make sure that none of the water coming from the project is wasted….not even from the runoff. In the picture above your can see the drainage channel from the pump area in the lower left of the picture. The guard created a small collection hole for the runoff. Each day, he hand waters a garden he has started near the project…..growing peppers, onions, garlic and some spices.