Thank you for helping us reach this milestone! Together, we have ended the walk for water for 101,000 people. Since 2005, your support has funded a total of 940 projects. So far this year, your gifts have brought clean, convenient water supplies, toilets, and hygiene education to an additional 19,255 people.

We thank our dedicated partner organizations in Bangladesh, Honduras, Ethiopia and India, who allow all of us to channel our compassion into lasting programs that transform lives.

Atker’s Story: Over 18,000 people living in urban slum communities in Dhaka and Chittagong gained access to clean water in 2013. One of them is Akter Begum (pictured above), who lives in Chittagong. Akter is 43 years old and a mother of 5 children. In 2013, her community took out a $437 loan from our Bangladesh partner (DSK) to drill a well and install a water system in their community. Now Akter no longer has to wake up early to walk to a distant water point and wait in line with other mothers to fill her containers. She says, “the water crisis is over now for my family. And my children are never late for school.”

Your faithful support year after year in turn allows us to consistently support our on-the-ground partners. As a result, our partners are able to nurture trusting relationships with communities and local leaders, and retain qualified and experienced staff.

Jahangir and his tea stall in Kamrangir Char, Dhaka.

Jahangir’s Story: Each year, DSK is able to form deeper relationships with people living in the neighborhoods where they work. This allows them to serve communities with special needs, like recyclers and toilet pit emptiers, who are especially vulnerable to infectious disease. Starting in 2012, DSK has been working with tea stall owners, to help them improve the hygiene of the food and drinks they serve.

Jahangir is a tea stall owner. He came to live in Dhaka after losing his farm land to river erosion. Jahangir sells tea, biscuits, breads, cakes and bananas. A DSK community health promoter talked with Jahangir about the problems and health risks of keeping fresh food uncovered, where flies can reach it. Jahangir decided to make a glass box to store his foods. Now, not only is the food protected, his sales have increased!

Your donations this year enabled a lot of construction activity in Honduras. Construction will continue into early 2014 in 10 communities whose projects are nearly complete. A large project serving four communities in San Jose, San Antonio, San Simon, and Canfura was completed in mid-2013. San Jose neighbors San Gabriel, Honduras, a community that completed a water and sanitation project in 2007 with your support. We hike through San Jose in order to visit San Gabriel, and every year the people of San Jose flagged us down to meet with them and discuss their problems with water.

Construction in Valladolid, Lempira.
The former water source in San Jose, Lempira.

San Jose: The story of the people of San Jose is like many in the southern Lempira region. The 800 people that live here are detached from the country’s economic centers and basic public services. They have no electricity or roads, and the only way to get to San Jose is on foot. The women of San Jose spent much of their days collecting water from a small stream that runs through the community and that they share with their livestock. You can see a video taken in San Jose before the project was completed.

When community members waved us down for a meeting, our local partner, COCEPRADIL, explained to them the process of implementing a water project — we could not provide any help until the people of San Jose found and purchased a water spring in the mountains to serve as the source of clean water for their project. It took them a couple of years of searching the mountains, and then negotiating with a landowner for purchase of the land. Each family had to pay the equivalent of about $150 to buy the spring and the land surrounding it. They really wanted this water project, so they saved up and sacrificed and now have legal title to a clean, abundant mountain spring that will serve the water supply needs of the community now and many years in the future as the population grows.

The people of San Jose did everything in their power to bring convenient, safe water to their community, and with your financial support, the new water system they built in 2012 and 2013 is now a reality.

The large piped water scheme to serve 1,800 people in Gonbisa Kussaye, a small farming community in Oromia, Ethiopia, is nearly completed. During our February 2013 visit to Ethiopia, we met with the volunteer water committee who will be responsible for maintaining the system when it is completed, and they shared their personal motivations for this project.

Digging pipeline trench in Gonbisa Kussaye, Oromia.
Askala and members of the Gonbisa Kussaye water committee.

Askala’s Story: Askala Tulu is in her thirties. She and her neighbors gather water from a muddy stream a mile or more from most people’s compounds. Drinking the water poses major health risks for the community. Askala knows that from experience. Last year, she contracted a parasite from drinking the water, probably a worm or a leech. The uninvited guest grew so large, it caused major complications and Askala had to be hospitalized. The medical staff were able to treat her and remove the worm (she says she kept it in a jar in her home to remind herself of the dangers of the untreated water in her community). Askala’s trip to the hospital cost her 6000 birr, the equivalent of at least 100 days wages. Her illness nearly killed her and nearly ruined her family financially. As a result of her experience, Askala is determined to do everything in her power to insure that Gonbisa Kussaye has a safe water supply in the future.

When our partner Water Action began organizing the community and facilitating the election of a water committee, Askala made it known that she wanted a role. The community whole-heartedly supported her and voted her on the committee. Askala even told us she would sell all her cattle if that would help make the project a reality. We were happy that we could report to her that Water1st had agreed to fully fund the project and she would not need to sell her cattle.

We are looking forward to cutting the ribbon on the completed project in Gonbisa Kussaye in February 2014.