Water Is Life Ethiopia is more than a clever name or an agency digging wells. Water Is Life Ethiopia is systemic generational transformation. Sure, people get clean water, which means that children are healthier, higher quality food is available year-round, and families have a chance at better income. It’s more than that.
Women find dignity and their own voices as they learn how to manage money. Men see women in a new way, as equal partners. Their daughters no longer have to skip school, which means they are better-educated. All of the studies show that the best way to impact poverty is to educate women. When women are educated, there is less crime, better nutrition, a higher standard of living, and less violence. According to statistics, each additional year of female education reduces child mortality by 18 per thousand births. And yet, it’s still more than that.
Girls who are 8, 9 and 10 years old no longer have to carry 5 gallons of water up to 10 miles twice a day. Do you know how much five gallons of water weighs? I do: 40 pounds. That’s right; girls who weigh 40 pounds are carrying their body weight twice a day, sometimes as much as 10 miles. Because they do this every day, sometimes for years, their skeletal systems are often damaged or their growth is stunted. Girls marry and give birth quite young (as young as 13 or 14). Because their skeletal systems are damaged, their births are difficult, and they often develop a fistula, a life long condition that renders them incontinent and ostracized. Because they don’t have to carry water, all of that goes away. And yet, it’s still more than that.
These young women are healthier physically, but they also see a new way of life for themselves. They see their mothers becoming empowered women. They see their fathers treating their mothers differently. Their brothers and sons also see girls and women in a new way. Everyone—not just girls—everyone is changed. Water Is Life Ethiopia is systemic, generational transformation.
When Jesus met the woman at the well, he said “The water I give will be a spring of living water, overflowing like a fountain.” Water Is Life Ethiopia is that water: a spring of living water, overflowing, from this generation to countless generations in the future. Building a well doesn’t just give a community clean water. Building a well gives a community life. Because Water Is Life.