An update on our water projects!

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

As you may remember, last year, through the Rally To Restore Unity and my 30th birthday, we raised over $5,000 for Charity:Water.

The great thing about Charity: Water is that 100% of the money we raised will go directly to water projects in developing countries.

This week I received the following message from the organization: 

Dear Rachel, 

The money you raised through your mycharity: water campaign in 2011 was sent to our local partners in the field...  

About nine months ago, your funds were pooled with those of other mycharity: water campaigns to help thousands of people in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone. We invested your money with our local partners, Relief Society of Tigray (REST) and International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Ethiopia and Concern Worldwide in Sierra Leone. This money will build and rehabilitate freshwater wells and spring protections for people in need. Our partners are also teaching communities about safe hygiene practices and forming local Water Committees to look after the projects when they're finished.

When your projects are complete, our partners will go back and collect GPS coordinates, photos and other details from each community. Then, they'll send all the data to us so we can create a project report for you and all your donors to share! We don't consider a project fully finished until the local Water Committees have been trained and the community has taken responsibility for their water point.  (See an example of the report you'll receive when your projects are ready here.) 

... We can't wait to report back to you later this year as the work continues in Sierra Leone and Ethiopia. When the projects are complete, you'll be able to see the actual communities you've helped. Thank you so much for your passion and support...

- The Charity:Water Team 

Sierra Leone

Charity: Water also sent us this update from Jonna Davis, reporting first-hand on the progress in Sierra Leone:  

Last year, I visited communities in Tonkolili District that received access to clean water through the money you raised.

Surface water is readily available in most of Sierra Leone, particularly in rainy season, so many people here were collecting water directly from nearby streams or stagnant ponds. But now, with the help of your donations, they have clean water projects nearby. Our local partner here, Concern Worldwide, has educated the communities about improved sanitation and helped form local Water Committees who will be able to take ownership over these projects going forward. As the annual dry season comes to an end, Concern's team will be busy finishing up the last wells and boreholes to take advantage of the low water table -- making sure the water points don't go dry in future dry seasons. 

The communities have also taken responsibility for their own sanitation because of our partnership with Concern here in Sierra Leone. Concern's field teams mobilize communities to build their own household latrines from locally available materials using the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach. This builds greater community engagement and encourages sustainability. Now, families will be able to replace or rebuild their own latrines.  

We look forward to reporting back to you when the projects are complete and the communities and schools in Tonkolili District have fully taken ownership of their water projects.


To learn more about how our fundraising efforts are being used in Ethiopia, check out this Charity:Water post about the work of REST

REST is now 32 years old, and is still led by its co-founder Tekloine, who is considered a hero in these parts; a man for the people. During the famine in the late 1980s, he helped march 160,000 Tigrayan people to Sudan and feed them. After the communist regime was overthrown, he convinced many of the freedom fighters to turn swords into plowshares and help him bring the people out of extreme poverty...[read more]

Please let me know if you have any questions about these water projects, and I’d be happy to contact our representative from Charity: Water. I really want us to stay informed about how our money is being used.

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