International Women's Day: Meet Alemitu

It's #InternationalWomensDay. And quite frankly, the women in rural Africa are some of the most hard-working, dedicated, and loving individuals we've ever met. Not only do they look after their children, cook, clean, and create income-generating goods, but they are also the ones that the family depends on for fetching water daily. They trek for miles to get dirty water. They lead their children to the water source, helping them fill their own jerry cans of this disease-ridden water because it's the only choice they have.

Without these women, there would be no water to drink.
Without these women, communities would fall apart.
They are the backbones of their families.
They are true heroes.
And in honor of #IWD2018, we'd like you to meet just one of the hundreds of strong women in rural east Africa, who work hard every single day to provide for their families.
Meet Mrs. Alemitu Mamo from the area of Elu Gelan in central Ethiopia. She is 38 years old and has five children.
She said that, before the new spring protection project was constructed in her village, they used to fetch water from the old unprotected water source. This old unprotected water source was polluted with visible leeches, which cause waterborne diseases like diarrhea. She recalls that a few years back, her younger son, Lemi Gebeyehu (who is 7 years old now) was taken to Ijaji health clinic because of diarrhea. She remembers paying 130 Birr for medication and transportation costs. Lemi's elder brother Abetu was also seriously sick with diarrhea and had to be admitted to Bako Hospital, which is 45km away from their home town. It costed the family more than 500 Birr total for the medical treatment and transport cost. (Perspective: 1 US Dollar = 27.56 Ethiopian Birr. Meaning that 500 Birr is about $18 USD. And the average income for a rural Ethiopian family is only $660 USD annually, or about $12 USD a week.)
In addition, Alemitu lost her husband Mr. Gebeyehu Megersa three years ago because of sickness related to a waterborne disease. This has devastated the family and put the burden on Alemitu to raise and provide for the children by herself.
She said that thanks to the newly constructed water protection system, now they don't have a health problem related with water. She stressed that now they can save their money from the clinic, medicine and related costs for other things. Furthermore, the children can fetch clean water without queuing for a long time, and are able to have time to study hard. And no need to miss class because they're busy fetching water.
Alemitu is raising five children as a single mother, in one of the most rural and poorest places in the world. And she does so with grace and determination to live the best life she possibly can.
Her story is not unlike many others in rural Africa, of women stepping up and being the strength the entire family relies on. Alemitu inspires us, and we hope she inspires you, too. These women are incredible, and we are blessed to meet so many who share with us their stories. On this International Women's Day, our prayer is that you would remember women like Alemitu all across the globe, and honor them by honoring the fierce, strong women right there in your own communities.

Life of an African Artisan


Did anyone get the chance to come to our Shop for a Cause event back in December? I’m sure your friends and family loved the unique African gifts you put under the Christmas tree for them. We do the Shop for a Cause events for a few reasons. Yes, it’s definitely cool to have something unique from another country. But it’s also another opportunity for us to help in small ways to change the lives of African people, particularly women. Women’s rights and empowerment is something we hear and talk a lot about here in the States. We thought it would be a great time to shed some light on what that looks like in Africa.

The cultural history of African Artisans is a rich one that is passed down from generation to generation. Traditionally, women are the main artisans, and the skills and techniques are passed from one generation of women to the next while they perform the duties of maintaining the home. As the demand for handcrafted goods and sustainable craftsmanship is growing worldwide, the opportunity for these women to turn their skills - like basket-weaving, textile work, jewelry making, and so much more - into something income-generating has been steadily increasing. The demand for these products has empowered these women to have jobs that help lift them out of poverty and bring positive change to their families.


More and more organizations are popping up who work to help make sure women are paid a fair wage for their work, and help to sell their products abroad. And we love being one of these organizations! So the next time you’re at one of our events and your eye is drawn to a brightly colored scarf, or a unique bowl or basket, we hope you see it with new eyes. Yes, it’s beautiful and well-crafted. But we hope you also see the face of a woman who’s working hard to change her circumstances, both for herself and her family.


In the spirit of women coming together to create change, we’re getting ready for our next event coming up on Thursday, February 22nd. Water to Thrive is partnering with thredUP to create a fun, affordable shopping experience that helps a great cause. At this "Sip & Swap" event, you'll have the opportunity to do some secondhand shopping while sipping and snacking. Simply bring at least 3 items of clothing, jewelry, shoes, or other accessories to the event that you're wanting to get rid of, and take any other 3 items of your choice. It’ll be a super fun night you won’t want to miss. Click here for tickets and keep an eye on our Facebook event for more updates!



A Very Special Year

Oh, how the time flies. It doesn’t feel like very long ago that Water to Thrive was just a big idea, that a small group of people has now turned into a reality. The dream is now in full force because April 2018 marks our TENTH YEAR as a non-profit! This milestone year is a big deal for us, and we’re excited you're going to be along for the ride.    

We always have big goals for the lives we can touch through W2T, and this year is no different. For our 10th anniversary, we’ve set a goal to have 1,000 wells funded by the end of 2018. As we stand now, we’ve received the funding for about 844 wells. That means we’ve got 156 wells to go. It’s definitely a big goal, but if we’ve learned anything in our ten years, it’s that we have amazing people who stand behind us and help us accomplish big things!

To add to the celebrations, Water to Thrive founder Dick Moeller will also be leading a unique 10th anniversary trip this summer to Ethiopia. During the 19-day trip (May 29th - June 17th) you’ll not only get to embrace the rich culture and history of Ethiopia, but you will visit at least one project site and community from each of W2T’s 10 years. This will be a truly amazing experience, and if you have ever considered going but haven't made the jump, this is the year to do it. Dick will be hosting a conference call on Monday, February 19th from 4-5 pm Central time to discuss the highlights of the trip and answer any questions you may have. For more information about the call or the trip, email Dick directly at:
We are so excited to see what all God has in store for W2T this upcoming year, and we’ll be here to bring you along every step of the way.



The holiday season is in full swing as we’re about a week away from Thanksgiving! You may remember from our Angels Watching Over Us blog a few weeks ago that we referenced the launching of our new Drop by Drop campaign this year during Giving Tuesday. As November 28th (#givingtuesday2017) quickly approaches, we wanted to provide some more exciting details around this new avenue to give to Water To Thrive.

Giving Tuesday, perhaps better recognizable as #givingtuesday, is a global initiative that was started as a way to focus back on spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving traditionally has been a day of giving thanks, followed by every deal under the sun. From Black Friday, to Small Business Saturday, concluding with Cyber Monday, we give thanks and then buy buy buy! While consumerism in and of itself is not wrong, it has seemed lately it gets harder and harder to hang onto the true spirit and meaning of the holidays. Giving Tuesday bookends the shopping frenzy in an effort to bring us back to being thankful for what we do have, and giving back in whatever way we can. To learn more about the #givingtuesday movement, visit their website at

This year on Giving Tuesday (November 28th, mark your calendars!) Water to Thrive will kick off our new Drop by Drop Fund to offer an additional way to give back. Our 100% Promise has always been extremely important to us, which means that 100% of every dollar donated to water projects goes directly to those projects. This has meant that we’ve needed to maintain funding for operations through other avenues. With fundraising events such as Chef’s Table, as well as our Water Angel commitments, we’ve been so blessed by those who have given directly to the operations of Water to Thrive.

We understand that not everyone has the financial means to commit to becoming a Water Angel. So our goal with the Drop by Drop Fund is to offer anyone who feels led the opportunity to donate any amount to the operational costs of Water to Thrive. Or, if you’d like to take the next step, consider making a five-year pledge to the Drop by Drop Fund (contact Susanne Wilson for more info).  We’re not wavering from our 100% commitment. What we’ve found is that as we grow internally, we’re able to accomplish so much more than we ever dreamed in the rural communities of Africa. Every dollar invested in operations equates to a $7 water return for a village, and this opportunity to raise more money on the operational side will help us continue to do big work in the years to come.

To donate on Giving Tuesday, head to You are helping us continue the important work of building wells and changing lives.



Climb Kilimanjaro with W2T

Stop what you’re doing. Be still and take a moment to think. Close your eyes and let your mind wander. Ask yourself the question: “What events in my life have shaped who I am?” It’s a hard question at first, but the more you think the more things will start to come to you. Maybe it's milestones like graduating college and beginning your career. The birth of a child or the death of someone close to you. Late night conversations and trips that weren't just beautiful places, but that changed the way you look at the world and yourself. If you’re thinking about all these moments and are both grateful for them and desperate for more, then you may be hearing your adventurous spirit call to you - and we have just what it needs.

In June 2018, as part of our year-long celebration of our 10th anniversary of service, Water to Thrive Executive Director Susanne Wilson will be leading an expedition to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, in our service nation of Tanzania. Standing 19,318 feet above sea level, Mt. Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. What better trip could you take to combine the adventure of a lifetime with changing lives forever?

Water to Thrive’s summer expedition will raise funds to support our mission of bringing clean, safe water to rural African communities in need, and will launch with visits to Tanzanian water projects. Afterwards, the group will begin the eight-day climb up the Lemosho Route of the mountain on target for a full moon summit.

The trip will take place June 14th – July 1st 2018, so mark your calendar. When presented with a challenge, it's tempting to try and talk ourselves out of it, and make ourselves believe we can't do it. So we leave you with these facts to inspire you:

  • South African Bernard Goosen twice scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro in a wheelchair. His first summit, in 2003, took nine days; his second, four years later, took only six. Born with cerebral palsy, Goosen used a modified wheelchair, mostly without assistance, to climb the mountain.

  • The oldest person ever to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro was 87-year-old Frenchman Valtee Daniel.

  • Nearly every climber who has summited Uhuru Peak, the highest summit on Kibo’s crater rim, has recorded his or her thoughts about the accomplishment in a book stored in a wooden box at the top. (Now that’s a book I want to read!)

  • Almost every kind of ecological system is found on the mountain: cultivated land, rainforest, heath, moorland, alpine desert and an arctic summit.

We’re making preparations, so make it your goal for 2018, and contact Susanne at or by phoning 512.206.4495 for more information.



Angels Watching Over Us

The picture around Angels might be different from person to person, but the general consensus is that Angels are a special supernatural being charged by God to watch over and protect us. At Water To Thrive, we have a special group of wonderful people that watch over us, so to speak, and so we’ve dubbed them with the fitting title of “Water Angels”.

Now more than ever, donors are concerned with where exactly their money is going. A commitment we made early on was to be fully transparent and honest with our donation process so our contributors can give confidently, knowing that 100% of their financial donation toward water is going directly to water projects. However, every organization, whether a business or a nonprofit like W2T, has operational costs such as marketing, partnerships, fundraising, and in our case, travel to manage programs in the field. That money has to come from somewhere.

That’s where our Water Angels come in. Water Angels are a group of individuals who have committed to giving $1,000 or more each year specifically to help fund the organizational side of W2T. Oftentimes this generous donation is in addition to their financial giving toward building wells. We, in turn, work hard to keep administrative costs low. This group of people is so dear to us because not only are they invested in making change in the world, but they also stand behind the work that we’re doing here at W2T.

We understand that everyone isn’t in the position to make a $1,000 commitment every year, but may still want to help with our operational costs. Coming up on this year’s Giving Tuesday (Nov. 28th), we will be launching our brand new Drop by Drop campaign. This will be an ongoing fund to directly aid our operational expenses, and we will be seeking pledges of varying amounts from people who feel called to support W2T in this way. Giving Tuesday will be our chance to share this new campaign with you, as well as give everyone an opportunity to designate how they would like their donation to be used in a way we have not made available in the past. If you’re interested in contributing to operational costs outside of your normal well giving, make sure to visit come November 28th to give directly to the Drop by Drop Fund. You can also contact Susanne Wilson anytime at to inquire about becoming a Water Angel. We are incredibly grateful for all our current Water Angels and so many of you who continue to bless us in so many ways. Thank you!


Village Campaign in Honor of the Reformation


The year seems to be flying by. If you’re anything like us, October seems to officially usher in Fall, and with that comes the knowledge that the Holidays are upon us and the year is quickly coming to a close. This year however, October has extra significance (apart from just the free candy we all look forward to). October 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation of the church.

The beginning of the Reformation was triggered by the publication of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses in 1517. This made clear that a relationship with God is accessible to the common man, sparking a breaking away from the old rules of religion. On the 500th anniversary of his act of conscientious defiance, it is important to take time and reflect on how that moment changed the world religiously, economically, politically, socially, and intellectually. Water To Thrive is excited to be hosting an exclusive, one-night showing of the new movie Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World. This will be the only screening happening in Austin, so check out our Facebook page to RSVP!


Thinking about so many people laboring under harsh and relentless conditions all those years ago, who rose up and sought revolution, got us thinking about how in some ways not that much has changed in 500 years. Experience tells us that change will continue to take place. Even when transformation brings challenges, God is at work. We invite you to join us in putting your faith in action to bring clean water to the Chare Dike Village in Ethiopia, in celebration of the anniversary of the Reformation. Chare Dike village members are faced with a decision each day we never would even consider. Do they want to stay close to home and collect drinking water from an unsafe, local river, or do they want mostly women and children to set out on a 3 hour walk to a protected spring source? The spring would provide safe water, but the walk is anything but safe. The journey also consumes valuable time that is needed for earning a living and attending school. Together we believe we can change this and build a well in the Chare Dike Village. To learn more about this village and to give directly to this campaign, click here.


However you, your friends, and families may be celebrating this historic event, we look forward to hearing stories, and taking part in remembering by giving back. God Bless!




Happy National Coffee Day!

Photo above is of a woman preparing coffee for W2T travelers at a village in Ahferom, Tigray in northern Ethiopia.



It’s National Coffee Day, so grab a fresh cup and enjoy this post all about the drink many of us couldn’t live without! Whenever we’re visiting wells in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, we always look forward to the time spent with communities over a cup (or many cups) of coffee. When you hear about Ethiopian Coffee, the association you think of might be Ethiopia Blend from Starbucks. However, in reality it’s so much more than that. The culture around coffee is so strong in Ethiopia that they often have traditional coffee ceremonies. This ceremony is a process of roasting, grinding, brewing, and serving coffee in three pours to guests and friends in order to honor their presence. Learn more about an Ethiopian coffee ceremony in this cool video from SAVEUR Magazine!

Coffee is probably one of the most recognizable parts of Ethiopian culture, and not just because it leads the country in domestic consumption. It’s estimated that about 15 million of the country’s population rely on some aspect of coffee production for their livelihood. They are Africa's top producer of coffee, the world's seventh largest producer of coffee, and contribute around 3% of the total global coffee market product. That’s a lot of coffee!

Coffee has been part of Ethiopia's indigenous cultural traditions for more than 10 generations, and surprisingly the production process has not changed much. Nearly all work, from the cultivating to the drying, is still being done by hand and in rural areas. Coffee was originally discovered because it grows wild in Ethiopia, and while you can still find wild coffee growing in mountain forests, nowadays farmers cultivate coffee through four different systems: forest coffee, semi-forest coffee, garden coffee and plantation coffee, with the largest producers being the latter two.

We love our coffee as much as the next person, but through our travels have realized that in America we tend to live in a coffee culture of necessity. We need it to wake us up in the morning, or keep us going through the day. However, there’s something very honorable about the way Ethiopians respect their coffee. They celebrate the economic value the product has on the individual and the country, and in turn use it to honor themselves and eachother. So as you drink your coffee today, we hope you celebrate all that it represents, and of course, enjoy the yummy taste and the extra boost of energy!


Photo above is from a coffee ceremony performed during a site visit at the Gosu Kora Primary School in central Ethiopia.

The Final Countdown...


We’re getting so close to our annual Chef’s Table Austin gala we can almost taste it! There has been so much interest so far this year and we have been blown away by how much this event grows each year. Chef’s Table is our biggest annual fundraiser that helps offset the operational expenses Water To Thrive incurs each year. It is important to us that when people donate towards water, 100% of their money goes toward funding a well. It’s events like Chef’s Table that help us raise the administrative money needed to make this possible. Last year the 2016 event netted over $94,000! This staggering total was a game changer to the impact we were able to make in east Africa. We can’t wait to see what we’ll be able to accomplish next year because of your generosity at Chef’s Table Austin 2017!

Tickets are still available, but act fast before ticket sales close on September 18th! We also wanted to remind everyone that for all tickets purchased from now until the end of ticket sales, we’ll be donating $10 of the proceeds of each ticket sold to Austin Disaster Relief Network to aid our fellow Texans suffering from #HurricaneHarvey in Houston and surrounding areas. It is devastating to see the damage and loss as a result of this storm, but is so uplifting to see people from all over the country coming to Houston's aid. Water to Thrive wants to do what we can, no matter how small, to help our brothers and sisters just a few hours from Austin in the aftermath and rebuilding process after the hurricane. Because together, we are #strongerthanthestorm!

If you haven’t had a chance to look at this year’s menus for Chef’s Table, make sure to check out our earlier blog post, or log onto Don’t put off getting your tickets for too long because sales close at NOON on Monday, September 18th, and we don’t want you to miss out!



See everyone there!


*This event would not be possible without some very special supporters, and a huge thank-you is in order for these incredible sponsors of Chef’s Table Austin 2017:









Upcoming Rotary Trip

  It’s always so inspiring to follow the blog when we have a group over in Ethiopia. We loved following Susanne and her group back in June, and we’re gearing up for our final trip of 2017! We’re always excited for our travels to check on the progress of wells, but we’re particularly thrilled about this next trip. Susanne, Water To Thrive’s Executive Director, will be leading a group to Ethiopia to visit specific wells that are in progress as a result of the Rotary International Global Grant.

This grant was the result of a few people turning “I’m only one person, what could I do?” into “I’m one person, how much more can I do” and coming together to affect change. In June of 2015, long-time supporters of Water To Thrive, Homer and Mary Goering, traveled to Ethiopia to visit well projects. They came back so inspired, they began giving presentations about their experience. One such presentation was given at Homer’s Rotary Club of Northwest Austin, where Kent Miller heard their story.


Kent, having spent time in Ethiopia himself, began wondering what could be accomplished by his community, and started to pursue a Rotary Global Grant. These grants support large international activities with sustainable, measurable outcomes. They have to fall into one of the Rotary’s areas of focus, the 6th of which happens to be water and sanitation.


Susanne Wilson with members of the Central Mella Rotary Club in Addis Ababa


The grant was approved and the reception by Rotary Clubs all over was so positive that 12 wells were fully funded. A key aspect of the Rotary Global Grant is that it has to involve a host Rotary Club in the country where the work is to be conducted. Susanne’s group will depart the U.S., and then meet up with our host Rotarians, The Central Mella Club of Addis Ababa. Together, the groups will travel to the specific sites where the Rotary Grant is working to establish wells. Anyone is welcome to come along on this trip, but act fast - the due date for the first deposit is coming up on September 15th, and travel will take place November 1st-15th. There are still openings available, so please reach out to Susanne directly at for more information, whether you’re a Rotarian or not. We hope to have you be part of this amazing experience! 


Susanne and fellow Rotarian from Addis Ababa celebrating with beneficiaries of the Rotary Pilot Project in November 2016


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