Safe Water—For the First Time Ever!
In our culture, things change. A new cell phone comes out every eighteen months; a new, slimmer laptop makes the news; a new pedometer that also tracks our sleep health is all the rage. Fashions change faster than we can wear out our clothes. Stores and restaurants open and close all around us. It’s hard for us to imagine living a life that looks just like our grandmother and grandfather’s lives.
It’s hard for us to fathom that the 400 families in the rural communities of Siski and Adikas, down the mountainside from Maji,
Have ALWAYS had to walk long, steep paths and carry spring water home for drinking, bathing, and cooking
Have NEVER had safe water available, because cattle had to share those springs.
But that’s how life is in remote traditional communities of the world. And now, shocking change has come to these two communities! I was told that most people there had never before seen cement: now this is what they saw being constructed. Now they began to believe that uncontaminated water might actually come to water distribution points like this, in central locations in their communities!
Several miles up on the hill, near the spring, the community members had gathered stones, as instructed, pulling them out of their fields and ditches. Up went a reservoir for the spring water, now protected by more of that amazing cement.
Helen Gebeyehu, our Ethiopian water engineer, checked the construction as the walls of the reservoirs rose.
The professional crew, brought in from another part of Southern Ethiopia, continued on, plastering the reservoir inside and out, and constructing a lid to keep the water clean.
Five miles of pipe had been trucked from the capital, Addis Ababa, to Maji to run from the reservoir down to the water distribution points. One grand day, workers unspooled the pipe and pulled it down to the communities.
Water! The first running water these children had ever seen!
Now it was up to the men of the two communities to dig trenches to bury and protect the pipe—all five miles of it! They collaborated with Ato Markos to divide up the distance and divide the able-bodied men into crews, each with an assignment marked off on the hillsides. Men began showing up before daylight to the trench. They worked by flashlight until the sun rose, and worked until it was time to go to their fields to plow and plant next year’s food crop.
The system includes troughs for the cattle. They will grow sleeker and fatter not having to climb up into the forest for water. They will bring a better price to market for these families.
In interviews Ato Markos has sent me, women and men have spoken passionately about how grateful they are for your help. How hard their struggle for life-sustaining water had always been; how this project speaks to them of your compassion; how amazing it is to have clean water running from faucets near their homes. They used to have to go to the water. Now clean water comes to them!
As Ato Markos said to me recently, “To us, MDC is like a miracle.” Thank you to all who helped MDC work this miracle in the Siski and Adikas communities in Maji District.