Access to Clean Water in Ethiopia | Maggie Fried, JSC 2013-14
Maggie Fried served as a JDC Jewish Service Corps Fellow in Ethiopia from 2013-14. Photos shown below were taken by Maggie as part of her work in the Gondar region of Ethiopia.
Help support Maggie's goal of a new well in Ethiopia; it only takes $3,500 to make this a reality!
We are 14 years into the 21st century –Amazon is proposing drones to deliver packages, high-end cars can drive themselves, and computers can do just about anything. Yet, around the world, there are 800 million people who do not have access to clean water. The concept of not having water, coupled with such large numbers, can be difficult for those of us who guzzle bottled water every day to comprehend. The idea of not having water might not seem so bad at first thought – just not being able to shower, right? But try not using the water in your house for a few hours and you will see what a big part water plays in our lives – we drink it, bathe in it, keep our homes clean using it, keep our pets hydrated with it, cook with it, and constantly wash our hands with it.
Working and living in Gondar, Ethiopia as a JDC Entwine Jewish Service Corps Fellow, I am reminded every day how many people here do not have close access to water, and that the water they do have access to is not clean. The country seems over-run with water during the rainy season, but after those four months, river beds dry up and water is hard to come by, even in a house with (occasional) running water like mine. This means that people who no longer live by water have to take time away from their families, communities, and education every day to walk long distances just to get the most basic necessity, water.
When I go to visit the wells that JDC builds in rural areas, I hear from people what their lives were like prior to having a well. They tell of suffering from dehydration, of sending their kids to school in the heat without water, and of having to walk for an hour each way just to get water, only to find that water cruelly betray them, giving them intestinal parasites and bacterial diseases because it is un-clean. Yet, with no clean water available, what choice did they have?
With so little water, families cannot bathe, wash their hands, or wash their clothes often. This, combined with of sanitation, is the main cause of health problems treated by doctors on the JDC rural health outreach program. It is not surprising that lack of water leads to deaths, but that water itself also causes deaths is much more difficult to imagine. Even harder to imagine is that every year diseases from lack of clean water and basic sanitation kill more people than all forms of violence, including war.
All of that is to say this: it is 2014, a time of so much development; yet, there are millions of people who do not have access to a nearby water source, let alone a water source that is clean. To help alleviate this problem, JDC builds wells in rural communities around Gondar that have been identified as in desperate need of clean water. Going above and beyond just constructing a well, JDC works with the community that the well serves to ensure that it is used as effectively as possible so as to provide maximum benefit. Visiting these well sites on a regular basis throughout my fellowship, I’ve seen how life-changing a single JDC constructed well can be for thousands of people.
In thinking about the conclusion of my fellowship and the way that I can make a long-term impact, I knew immediately that I wanted to bring clean, safe water to communities in Ethiopia. I hope you will work with me to build wells in rural Ethiopia and to transform hundreds of lives.
“It is too difficult to express in words our gratitude. In the past we drank dirty water, but now everyone, even the little children, can fetch the water and use the wells. We are so thankful for AJJDC and those who gave the money for the well.” – Community leader at Shirowarka Village on the JDC well built in the community in summer 2013