Brooke’s 27th Birthday Charity:Water Campaign, One Year Later…
#1 TSEFSEF MAI-MINDAL, TIGRAY, ETHIOPIA
SHALLOW BOREHOLE, Project # G11-RE-00648
Tsefsef Mai-Mindal is a village in a remote part of Tigray in Ethiopia. We ‘road surfed’ many hours in 4WDs to reach it, and upon our arrival Scott Harrison (founder of Charity:Water) told us that the people of this community had been so desperate for clean water that they had literally dug out and built the road required in order for the drilling rig to reach the village and be able to drill the well.
Tsefsef Mai-Mindal is home to 650 students and 2500 adults in the village and surrounds. Their former water source was a creek polluted with animal faeces and a parasite that attacks the liver and blood system. Leeches were also a nasty problem for the people of Tsefsef Mai-Mindal, as infant leeches are small enough to make it through the make-shift filters the women would use to filter the water (leaves or the hems of their dresses), and would be swallowed as the dirty water was consumed and then grow inside the throat, growing fat on blood. They would be removed in an excruciating method involving scraping a sharp stick down the back of one’s throat. Not only this, but the creek was seasonal, meaning in the dry season the water dried up completely, meaning no water and a many-hour journey to try and find other sources.
Now that the well is complete and operational, these issues are a thing of the past. Well water is something like 30 times cleaner than New York city tap water! Children can go to school and stay in school because they’re not getting sick from waterborne diseases or having to miss class to walk many hours try and find water in the dry season. Women are no longer at risk of being attacked or raped on the long walk to finding clean water, because the well is in the heart of the village and secure.
Though this particular community needs more wells to service all the families, which means a bit of a queue at peak times, because this well is a shallow borehole rather than a hand dug well (it is much deeper and has penetrated the groundwater source), it means there is very little likelihood that this well will ever run dry (there will always be enough for everyone) and if it is maintained properly should provide clean water to this community for generations.
MAI TIMKET, TIGRAY, ETHIOPIA
Shallow borehole, project # G11-RE-00646
We were running late and drove many hours to reach Mai Timket, arriving at sunset. I will never forget the sight that greeted us!
The community had been expecting our arrival much earlier, so much of the community had returned home except for a striking welcoming party of about 30 elderly, stately white haired shepherds. It was profoundly humbling to pull up in our fancy SUV meeting this dignified party of patriarchs who had waited all day in the hot sun. I made sure I took off my sunglasses to greet the grandfathers, so they could see my eyes. Sunglasses don’t fly here. They make you seem distant, suspicious, like you have something to hide.
I was quite emotional at this point. The rest of the group had retired to the lodge after the long day, so it was just myself, CW founder Scott Harrison and videographer DDM. I’ll always remember it as a really intimate and special moment – us three white people, the shepherds, a new well and vast nothingness for hundreds of kilometres around us.
The well here was within a day or so of being completed and when we arrived the cement was drying in the sun, protected from roving animals or curious children by bramble branches placed around the project. All that was left after the cement dried the following day was to attach the pump to the well cap, and we had an operational well.
This is another shallow borehole, drilled by a rig into the groundwater, meaning water for many years if not indefinitely. This well serves 750 people who previously had a 90 minute walk (one way) for dirty water, including these 30 or so very charming ‘mature age’ Ethiopian shepherds!
With the rest of the funds raised by all of you as part of my birthday campaign, Charity:Water estimates they will be able to build a minimum of 6-8 further projects (depending on the depth of the groundwater, therefore whether a well can be hand dug or a drilling rig is required to drill a shallow borehole, which is more expensive).
I will keep you updated with the details and GPS co-ordinates of these projects as their locations are finalised and then the projects completed. I think we’ll also have some video content for you to enjoy after the holiday season has passed.
Thanks for having big, beautiful hearts and giving so generously to see our brothers and sisters in developing nations have access to the same basic necessities we take for granted each day. Truly the best birthday gift I could ever receive! THANK YOU!
To ‘donate’ your own birthday and begin your own birthday campaign, visit www.mycharitywater.org
Water is life.
Merry Christmas and the happiest of holidays to you.