A letter from… Konso, Ethiopia
I’m very fortunate that where I grew up is a very green area of Ethiopia – we had rain. My family are small-scale farmers and grow all kinds of cereal crops and peas, and also keep sheep, goats, horses and bees. But even there, we had no safe drinking water.
In the places where I work now with WaterAid, things are more difficult. In Mecheke, Konso, in south-west Ethiopia, you cannot find any water easily, let alone have safe water and sanitation.
For most of the year it is very, very dry. When it rains, the river pops up and the community walk half an hour to reach it over a very steep mountain; it is very difficult for pregnant women and the elderly. When the rain goes, it dries up, and they have to travel all day long. Because of drought, they don’t have a harvest every year. That is something that troubles them very much. They suffer from diarrhoea and stomach ache, especially the children.
WaterAid Ethiopia started work here two or three years ago. The drilling of boreholes is underway, and we hope, by early next year, there will be safe drinking water in the village. The objective is to provide water for drinking, hygiene and small-scale agriculture.
In another village, Lahyte, we managed to provide the people with safe water this year. Before that, they had to travel three or four hours to get it. For me, knowing the situation before and after, it is amazing! I know people who gave birth while collecting water and they rue the day – so many disappointments. Now, people are screaming with happiness; they are reborn; they have no words to express their happiness. One I interviewed, said: “I don’t have anything to say, I pray to God, and praise you, and praise God.” They are speechless when they see safe water at their home.
In both villages there are Christians. Their religion is not affected because there is no water; they are not lacking in faith. They will pray for the rain to come. That is their main prayer.
As a practicing Christian, I pray to the Lord that these people should have at least the basics of life – water, shelter, school – so they can have a bright future. I pray for anyone, including God, to provide water. I pray for somebody to come in and improve the situation. I pray that in Ethiopia all of us will have a better life and a better future for our children.
I would like to say to Christians in the UK, any gift from you can make a difference. If you send us a prayer, that matters. It helps our community establish a strong relationship with God. Everything matters in this place. Please help the children who have diarrhoea, so they can live beyond five years. Let mothers give birth safely and see their children grow up. Thank you for listening to me.
Benti Ejeta is media officer for WaterAid Ethiopia. To support WaterAid’s work in places like Mecheke and Lahyte, churches can take a special collection during harvest services. Visit www.wateraid.org/uk/harvest/ethiopia to order a fundraising pack and download further resources. A collection will be taken for WaterAid at the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church in July
This article was published in the June 2014 edition of Reform.