CWR Brings Water to Ethiopia

Post a Comment » Written on March 19th, 2008     
Filed under: News
GINCHI, ETHIOPIA (March 19, 2008) – The ceremony resembled many that are held every day throughout the world. Local politicians made speeches. A dignitary cut a ribbon.

But this was different. After the ribbon cutting, 500 people watched as a water spigot was turned on. For the first time in their lives, the people had access to clean water.

“They actually waited to open the spigot till we arrived,” says Mark Nilson (at left), pastor of First Covenant Church of Seattle, Washington, who recently traveled with 11 others to visit water projects funded by Covenant World Relief (CWR) and Water 1st, a ministry partner that provides water to poor communities throughout the world.

A well and latrine project sponsored by CWR is bringing the gift of fresh water to remote African villages, which will dramatically reduce incidents of various diseases and save numerous lives. According to Water 1st, only 11 percent of the people living in rural areas have access to safe drinking water. To see additional photos from this event, see Water Project.

Nilson says that seeing firsthand the difference clean water made to the people was a moving experience. A woman around 70 years of age invited the group into her small mud-thatched house with corrugated roof—“by far the nicest in the village”—to show off her new home and pit latrine covered by an outhouse.

She told the group, “Every day I would go in the bushes, and I would hear someone, and then I would worry that they had seen us. But now I have this beautiful latrine, and I am no longer ashamed. I thank God for giving me this beautiful latrine.”

After the ceremony, the group traveled to the village of Bishikiltu to announce that a water project would soon begin there. “We met under the ‘Mother Tree’ that provided shade for all,” Nilson says. “People kept coming and coming from every direction.”

Upon learning the news, the leader of the village declared, “We are reborn!” Nilson recalls. Other villagers explained why the water was so important.

A man named Negese told the group, “The water we get has worms. We try to boil it, but the children are thirsty, they can’t wait and take drinks of water when my wife is not there to stop them. Four of my children have died from drinking this water. I held all four of my children when they died.”

Negese continued, saying, “You are teaching us a lesson today. You have what you need, but you have chosen to come from so far away to tell us that you are helping us with our problems. We are different people. You have white skin, we have brown skin, but you still care about us from halfway around the world. Now we know that we have not been forgotten.”

The types of wells and delivery systems built by CWR and Water 1st vary depending upon the geology of the village receiving the water. Each well is part of a larger plan in the area.

A project in one village involved building a 450-foot-deep well and 10 water stations. The trenches for the piping were dug by hand. “It’s really very elaborate,” Nilson says.

Other Covenanters on the trip were Kirk Anderson and Marla Smith-Nilson, director of Water 1st. Also participating were North Park University professor of biology Linda Vick and assistant professor of nursing Eugenia Benevich.

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