Engera has been operating for years in the Gurage zone of Ethiopia. On top of direct intervention and training of local staff, Engera manages and supports 7 health facilities with the aim of offering healthcare assistance to a population of over 100,000 people.
These are the 4 pillars of our Activies:
Maternal and child health is our core focus, but our work extends far beyond those areas. Engera supports the local Ethiopian staff across various rural health structures, providing the only reliable healthcare in the remote areas we operate.
We invest in long-term sustainability through the training of nurses, midwives and other professional figures during Engera mission, and by subsidizing continued training for local staff.
The health and well-being of an individual depend on many factors that go well beyond the health sector in the strict sense. For such a young population, school plays a fundamental role. Engera invests in numerous educational projects aimed at the growth of young people in the villages where we operate.
We work to restore and expand the health facilities that already exist in the villages of this region, and we invest in new facilities that support better healthcare, for example, the construction of wells for the supply of clean water.
On the occasion of World Water Week, Eyosiyas, our new volunteer, had a conversation with Woynshet, a mother, and a resident of Gurage. In this conversation, we wanted to learn more about the daily water issues she faces. By speaking with community members, we hope to gain real insight into the reality of their lives and work towards effective solutions. The right to clean and accessible water is a fundamental right for all, and we are committed to advocating for this basic human right.
Q: Where do you and your family get your water from?
Woynshet: We get our water from the river, but it is quite a long walk. The river is about 45 minutes from our village.
Q: That seems like a long way to fetch water. How do you manage it?
Woynshet: It is very difficult, especially in the hot months. I wake up early in the morning before the sun gets too hot. I take my youngest children with me and we carry two large Jerrican each. It takes us almost an hour each way to reach the river.
By the time we get back, I am exhausted. But I have to then take care of the household chores and cook the food.
The children also get very tired from the long walk. Sometimes their small bodies cannot handle carrying the heavy containers and they end up spilling the water.
Q: It sounds like fetching water has been such hard work for you and your family.
Woynshet: Yes, it is a struggle we have known for generations. My mother and grandmothers walked this same path every day since they were young girls. None of their lives ever changed – they just grew older, carrying heavier loads as their bodies weakened.
I had hoped one day when I got married and had children of my own that things would be different. But here I am, nearly 30 years later, still making the same journey everyday. My circumstances are the same as those who came before me.
Q: It’s disappointing to hear that the situation hasn’t improved over time. Has the government provided any help or assistance to address this difficult situation?
Woynshet: Some years ago, officials came to our village and said they would build a public hand pump well for us. We were so relieved at the thought of how easy it would be. But after their visit, we never saw them again.
Whenever we ask the local leaders what happened, they say the funds were delayed or the project was postponed. By now, I’ve lost hope that it will actually be completed. Our children will probably walk the same road as their mothers and grandmothers. Nothing will change.
Q: What about your health? Have you been sick drinking from the water?
Woynshet: During the rainy season, the river often becomes muddy and flooded with runoff from other villages. But even in dry times, the water is discolored and cloudy. We have no choice but to boil and drink it though. Many of my children have endured stomach illnesses and fevers after drinking from the river.
Just last month, my youngest daughter became very ill with diarrhea that left her very weak. I brought her to the clinic and there they gave her medications. It took over a week for her to recover. We use cloth to filter and we boil it for my children to drink as it was said it is better that way. But still I fear for my children’s health. I fear they will get very sick and die.
Woynshet’s story highlights the urgent need for action and for the seeds of change when it comes to rural water access. As this year’s World Water Week theme emphasizes, we must pursue innovative, sustainable solutions to create a world where communities like Woynshet’s thrive.
As climate change intensifies water insecurity, we need creative “seeds” – like groundwater extraction, solar-run pumps, rainwater harvesting, or small-scale irrigation – that can grow into oases of reliable water provision.
Through the daily difficulties of women like Woynshet, we see how essential water is for health, livelihoods and development. A water-wise world leaves no one behind with inadequate access.
We recently hosted a successful cocktail evening at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, raising funds for the important expansion of the Galeya Rogdha Clinic in a remote village in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. The event included a private viewing of the “Reaching for the Stars” exhibition,” a special raffle and
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