Safe Water Brings Transformative Change to Bishikiltu
I’ve had the honor of visiting the community of Bishikiltu, Ethiopia on four or five occasions over the course of several years. My job was to document the conditions of the community before, during, and after the installation of a new water system. I created several fundraising films and social media campaigns to fundraise for the water system that was eventually installed in Bishikiltu.
My first visit, our team met with community members who explained to us their dire need for safe drinking water. We met them under the shade of the big tree outside the village’s schoolyard. We walked down to the river to see where the women and girls gather water every day. Cattle were watering at the same place, standing in the very water these women were gathering for their families. Often they walk even further to find cleaner water, but none of what they find is safe, and they told us of babies routinely dying from drinking contaminated water. We met a woman who routinely walks six hours a day to find the cleanest water to take home. She nearly feinted while we were interviewing her.
We returned a year later, empty-handed. The organization I was working for, Water1st International, had been successful in raising enough money to fund a nearby community, who’s system was less expensive, but not enough money for Bishikiltu’s bigger, more complicate project. It was hard to meet the community members that second time, under the shade of the tree, with nothing to report other than our commitment to keep working. We all cried together that day. They reminded us that they’d been trying to dig a well by hand for 35 years, and that they were patient people. We cried some more.
We came again on a third trip with the good news that the funding goal had finally been met, and the project would go forward. People were overjoyed, and again, we prayed together and cried, this time, tears of joy. On another quick visit, I stopped in during construction of the system and found people working hard building things, making sacrifices to better themselves, learning new skills.
And finally, I visited Bishikiltu once last time, on the day their water project was inaugurated. It was glorious. People came from miles around, blowing horns, in ceremonial costumes, on horse back. Fully decked out.
This film was produced from that ceremony, as well as archival footage from the earlier shoots. A highlight of my time that day was when I interviewed several girls at the local school. The were of middle school age, but they had never been able to attend school regularly, because of their water work. All three told me they would not be there right now if it wasn’t for the new water system. They would be walking miles and miles, every morning, carrying heavy, polluted water home for their families. One young woman told us that she had received basic health training related to the water and sanitation project, and now that she can attend school, her goal is to become a nurse and teach other people about the relationship between water and health.
Safe drinking water transforms people’s lives, and can transform an entire community.
Please Celebrate safe drinking water with the people of Bishikiltu, Ethiopia. Go visit them, sometime. They’re lovely people.