Sustainable Living Teams (SLTs) are about creating the environment where W-A-T-E-R can be poured and shared. It is giving a hand up, not a handout, as we all learn to work from the inside out.
Providing physical water is a huge benefit, but placing a well in the community does not change mindsets or behaviors that are entrenched in unhealthy dependencies. SLTs provide an active network of relationships and loving support that creates a vibrant and safe learning environment to change harmful traditional practices such as drinking polluted water. The goal is to restore dignity, create vision and enable income generation from the potential that already exists within themselves and their community.
SLT’s are a voluntary but formal gathering of 10 to 15 women who have identified themselves as the poorest people in the community through a wealth ranking process. The members do not qualify for small loans from microfinance institutions or banks and many are indebted to loan sharks that charge exorbitant interest rates. Members learn how to increase household income through the discipline of saving their own money over time at regular meetings. They take turns taking short-term loans that are paid back to the SLT with interest. The loan repayment rate is essentially 100% because they are learning to manage their own money wisely and no one lives very far away.
SLTs do not receive money from outside sources to build their capital. It comes entirely from their own savings plan. Learning how to save and manage money is a new paradigm that opens minds to new opportunities. Water Is Life Ethiopia provides the initial support for coordinators, facilitators, transportation and training; and usually, after three years of development, the team becomes self-sustaining. You can help create and strengthen SLTs which are vital to cultivate a network of supportive relationships that leads to meaningful opportunities for growth and development.