Thank you to the people of Ethiopia―especially our partner Water Action and the communities of Dawo Kara and Dima Jeliwan―for your gracious hospitality. Thank you for the delicious buna (coffee) and injera bread, and for opening your homes and sharing your lives with 31 Americans. We are proud to call you colleagues and friends. It was an unforgettable week. Read on for trip highlights.

As we drove into the community of Dawo Kara, children raced across the dry fields to greet us—running alongside our cars with huge smiles, open faces—eager to connect. A group of men welcomed us on horseback and led our cars into the village. The women met us—chanting, clapping, singing—
expressing their gratitude for our visit and their new water project. Their walk for water was over.          


At the water inauguration ceremony, community leaders and government officials shared their thanks. “We are grateful to the kind-hearted supporters of Water1st for their role in making this project possible,” said Adane Kassa, Director of our Ethiopia partner, Water Action. “We thank you for traveling all this way to meet the people of this region. You even carry water with them. Your actions show that you truly care and are committed to supporting permanent solutions. Ours is a true partnership, and we look forward to continuing our relationship to serve more needy communities in Ethiopia.”

Thanks to Water1st supporters and a challenge match provided by the Not Yet Foundation, a drilled well pumps clean, safe water to a 20,000-gallon storage tank, where it is then piped directly to 12 public water points (water collections stations), each with multiple faucets to minimize wait times. These water points are strategically placed throughout the community to provide a convenient water collection point for each household. Community members contributed their labor to this project, including digging over 7 miles of pipeline trench by hand, using simple pick axes and shovels.

Congratulations, Dawo Kara—your dream of clean water is a reality!                       

Crowds gathered as we entered the community of Demi Jeliwan, home to 5,000 people who survive as subsistence farmers. An extremely poor region, about 10 percent of the people have access to clean water and only 7 percent have a sanitary toilet. Demi Jeliwan is next on our project list.

Together we walked to the community’s water source—a contaminated, muddy river. As we filled our containers with water, we looked up to see cattle entering the river just 50 yards away.

We strapped the containers onto our backs and carried the water back to several homes.                        

Our hosts graciously invited us into their homes―thatched roofed huts with dirt floors, a bench, a simple fire for cooking―where we learned about the family’s daily life.

“I have six children. My oldest daughter is 8 years old and she carries water with me every day,” said one mother. “Water is our number-one priority. Everything we do requires water. We will work hard and do our part to make sure this project is successful,” said a village leader.

At the Dima Jeliwan school, we initiated a girls only pick-up soccer game. The Seattle Reign FC (Seattle’s professional women’s soccer team) represented us well on the pitch—local schoolgirls vs. Elli Reed, Lauren Barnes, Reign owner Teresa Predmore, and a few of our teenage Water Tour participants. In spite of the talent on the Water1st side, the girls of Dima Jeliwan prevailed in a lopsided 5-0 match. Gender shifts happen slowly, but the Reign may have just sped things up a bit in this rural community.

Our five Global Fellows enthusiastically participated each step of the way—observing our community-led philosophy of development firsthand and attending evening reflection sessions related to global development topics.

“We have made so many memories and encountered amazing people who have dedicated their lives to helping others. I am leaving inspired and full of love and hope that we can one day end the walk for water.”

“This was the best week of my life.”

We are honored to have this extraordinary group of students as advocates for the global water crisis.


We feel very fortunate that so many of our supporters are able to travel with us and learn more about our work and the people that participate in the projects we fund. Our partner organizations and our project beneficiaries feel respected by our visits and that makes us extremely proud. If you are interested in traveling with us, please contact us.

Learn more >>