by Dick Moeller
It all began at Triumphant Love during a Sunday School class in the summer of 2007. The idea for Water to Thrive was born as the Spirit moved our congregation to action. And now, three short years later, over 75,000 rural Ethiopians have clean, safe water for the first time in their history. Four TLLC members, Rennie and Ed Scharlau, Eric Schmidhauser, and Dick Moeller, shared time together on a recent trip to Ethiopia to visit some of the communities benefiting from wells and to visit other communities still in desperate need of clean water. During our two weeks we shared emotions that covered the spectrum…from the highs of celebrating first-time, clean water with communities…to the lows of helplessness as community members fetch filthy water for their families because it is all they have…to the spiritually uplifting morning devotion and worship high on a rock formation at the Gheralta Lodge.
The people we serve in rural Ethiopia live a difficult life, filled with walking long distances, hard, back-breaking work and the burden of feeding their families. They are incredibly grateful for the blessing of clean water but are quick to remember their brothers and sisters in neighboring. They are quick to share whatever they have to express their gratitude, even if it is only a beautiful smile or an ear of corn from their field. Some of our favorite moments on the trip come when we share greetings and blessings with the local communities from literally thousands of sponsors and donors who make our life-saving well projects possible. It is an honor of the highest order.
Some Moments to remember…
- The entire Water To Thrive Board of Directors being together on our first day in the field as we visited the Gedamba deep borehole project, which is now completed. This is our most ambitious project in which we have participated. 11 water distribution points, a 100,000 liter reservoir, 700 feet deep well with generator and pump with over 6 miles of distribution pipeline. It serves 3 communities of approximately 7,500.
- Celebrating the Inauguration of their hand dug well site with the community at Awi Sewhi
(Tigray) and as we are walking away from the project, seeing a 6-7 year old boy kneel beside a stagnant, nasty pond of water to take a drink.
- Listening to the community members at W2T projects Mai Shana I (TLLC project) describe the positive changes in their community after having clean water for 2 ½ years.
- Being greeted by 600+ clapping and singing students at Genti School, where a W2T project will bring clean water to their school for the first time.
- Visiting with a farmer in the countryside who had taken out a micro-finance loan to buy an irrigation pump for his land. His crop yield had improved so much that he is now leasing land from other farmers in the area to irrigate a larger area. Entrepreneurism is alive in Ethiopia!
- Seeing God’s magnificent handiwork in the Simien Mountain National Park and walking quietly among the gelada baboons in the park.
- Visiting the Selekleka Clinic with Jim, who had treated patients there almost 50 years ago. Marveling at the commitment of Jim and Carolyn, his wife, who worked in Ethiopia for 4 years starting at the age of 23!
…and the list could go on and on!