On Wednesday, we visited Dawo Kara village to observe their current water supply, a small spring with turbid water about one quarter mile or more down a hill from the village where women and children slowly fill 5 gallon jugs, strap them on their backs with cloth, and then make the heavy slog back up the hill to their village homes – modest structures with walls made of Eucalyptus sticks and mud, and thatch or corrugated metal for the roof.

Hauling water for washing, cooking, and drinking must be done 2 or 3 times per day.

To better understand what the villagers are coping with and learn what a piped water system that brings clean water within in a few yards of their homes mean to these people, we each carried a load of water up the hill from the spring to the village. On this particular day, I had been feeling poorly from insufficient sleep and an upset stomach, so after carrying the water to the house of one villager, I lay down by myself in the shade of a tree to get some rest and try to settle my stomach.

I was alone for only a few minutes before I heard a little person’s voice behind me saying something in Oromyfa. What ensued was a mutual language lesson, first with one little  boy, but gradually with a growing group of folks of all ages, boys and girls, men and women. They were so kind and patient with my pronunciation and the concern for my welfare was evident in their faces. After a half hour’s visit, I felt much better and sensed strongly that the collective good will of these kind people was instrumental in relieving my discomfort.

This experience made me even happier that Water1st has committed to assist the people of Dawo Kara to bring clean water to their community within the next couple of years, and it made me eager to return and see that system inaugurated in 2016.

David Hartley is a Principal at Northwest Hydraulic Consultants and a 2014 Water Tour Participant