Friday, March 24, 2017

WASH Project Success at the Gosu Kora Primary School!

Above: Hailu enjoys a fresh drink of clean water at his school's new water point.
We're so excited to share about the successful completion of the Spring of Hope WASH Project in Ambo, Ethiopia! This was the biggest water project 4others has ever attempted since our humble beginnings as the African Water Project in 2007.

In fact, the Spring of Hope WASH Project was more than just a water project. It included a multi-faceted approach to improving the health and hygiene of over 460 students and staff at the Gosu Kora Primary School. The preparations of this massive project took over a year to implement, and included digging a 2.2 kilometer trench for the water pipeline and conducting Health and Sanitation training for the Gosu Kora Primary School students and community members.

An example of the community's previous source of water

Trenching for the water pipeline to the community water point

A student presents instruction on proper sanitation at the School Health Club

Excavation for one of the latrine blocks at the Gosu Kora Primary School

Construction around the Gosu Kora Primary School water point

Community leaders attending a monthly WASH training session in preparation for the new water points and sanitation facilities at the Gosu Kora Primary School.

After nearly a year of preparations, the Spring of Hope WASH Project is complete! The new water points and latrines are now in active use and benefiting the lives of countless families! The Spring of Hope mission team got to personally witness the incredible impact of the WASH project. 

Take a tour of the Spring of Hope WASH Project through their eyes: 

Students at Gosu Kora Primary School welcomed the team with singing... the song was about the benefits of good hygiene!

Clean water point at the Gosu Kora Primary School
Before.... The school previously had no access to any water. During their school break, many students would jump the fence and search for water, sometimes having to walk a long distance to a contaminated river source. Such a trek would take too long to allow them to return to school during their break period, so they would miss the rest of the school day and fall behind in their studies. 

Now.... Having their own water point gives the students and staff immediate access to safe water at no charge! The teachers testified that there has been a dramatic increase in attendance at the school and fewer absences due to sickness. No longer plagued by water-borne illnesses, the students are living healthier lives and generally performing better in school. The children can now drink safe, clean water and also bring this water home to their families. 

Hailu and his friend were splashing their faces with the cool water to cool off from the hot day.

Chaltu demonstrates washing her hands, which is a practice of good hygiene according to her school's Health Club training!
Birke smiles after taking a refreshing drink of safe, clean water!
This water point has a total of 10 faucets, providing safe water for over 460 students and staff throughout the day at no charge.

The school held a ceremony of securing a special plaque to the water point, recognizing the key partners in this project.

Team member and supporter of the WASH Project, Denise, testing the cool water.

Next, the students and faculty led the team to check out the BRAND NEW LATRINES which the WASH Project also constructed! Before the WASH Project, all 460 students and faculty shared one poorly constructed two-stall latrine which lacked any doors for privacy. Many of the male students practiced open defecation, while the female students tried to wait until school was over to find a private place. Naturally, this made the children vulnerable to illnesses and caused them to miss lessons. Girls in particular were affected by a lack of private toilets, and often dropped out of school when they started menstruation. 

The previous school latrine lacked proper ventilation and privacy.

BUT NOW.... the school has two separate VIP latrine blocks, one for boys and one for girls! There are six stalls (with doors!) for both genders, located at opposite sides of the property for maximum privacy. Each block also has a handicap accessible stall, with a ramp for easy access and a seat with metal railings. 

Both boys and girls latrines also have adjacent hand washing stations to enforce good hygiene practices!

Each latrine block has six stalls, including one handicap accessible stall.

The handicap accessible stall has a ramp for easy access and a seat with metal railings. 

Team member Ana was excited to find a couple of donkeys hanging out behind the girls' latrine block. Of course, this was just an everyday sight for all the other students!

Each latrine block has an adjacent hand washing station and a painted reminder to practice good hygiene!

Another reminder about practicing good hygiene. This was painted on one of the school buildings.

Recognition plaques were placed on each of the latrine blocks. Team members Rich and Rob secured the plaque for the Boys Latrine block, representing all the generous donors who made this project possible! 

Chala and his friends are grateful for access to safe sanitation at their school!

Ana quickly found her favorite friends at the school: Chaltu, Ayantu, Kebene, and Birke. These girls are so blessed to have safe, private sanitation facilities at their school!

As the team walked from one latrine block to the other, we passed two surprising additions to the WASH Project! 

The first was a 2,000 liter water tank. It was installed in between the two latrine blocks to ensure that water would be available to the children at all times, even when service is temporarily disrupted. The project manager explained, "You can't teach children to practice good hygiene if the water supply is intermittent; so it's very important that they develop the habit of washing their hands every time they use the latrines!"

Two WASH Project additions: A 2,000 liter water tank and... a second water point!
The second addition (seen in the photo above) is a separate water point! Amazingly, this water point was constructed from the leftover building materials of the original water point. So donors were able to give the school two water points, one on each side of the property, for the price of one! 

What a pleasant surprise! We thank God for His provision throughout this project, and for our savvy project manager, Gashaw Semeneh (of Water to Thrive) for making the best use of these resources.

The reception of the mission team and WASH Project representatives definitely drew a crowd! Here, team member McKenzie smiles with Spring of Hope social worker Ababech and unsponsored child Gebise.

After the tour of the new WASH Project facilities, we walked back to the front of the school. There was a huge crowd of students and community members who had gathered to welcome us! We took our seats and gratefully accepted the coffee ceremony served by our hosts.

The mission team was honored to represent the generous donors and supporters of the Spring of Hope WASH Project!

Of course, as is tradition when there's a special ceremony in Ethiopia, coffee and popcorn were served, along with soda and bread. Yum!

And then the speeches began, all of the which were being covered by the Oromia regional news! Students read poems that challenged community members to make the most of the provision of clean water. Community leaders and teachers expressed their thanks to all of YOU--the wonderful donors and supporters of the Spring of Hope WASH Project! They thank you for your kindness and generosity in providing such a life-changing gift!

Representatives of WASH Project partners -- 4others, SVO, and Water to Thrive -- also addressed the crowd, thanking community members for their support and giving God all the glory!

SVO Executive Director Misganaw Eticha addressing the community leaders and students as Oromia regional news covers the celebration of the Spring of Hope WASH Project.

Our Project Manager from Water to Thrive, Gashaw Semeneh, thanks the donors and community.

4others representative Ron Hunt thanks each of the partners and all the many community members who helped bring the WASH Project to completion. (Misganaw translates)

After the ceremony, the children returned all the tables and chairs to their classrooms (such great helpers!). We thanked our hosts once more and headed out.... But this was just the first stop on our WASH Project tour! So we began the long trek down the dirt road toward the community water point. And it turned out to be another incredible experience!

Catch our next blog post to find out all about the Community Water Point! 

Habtamu helped tidy up after the ceremony.

Birke was also very helpful with the clean up!

Spring of Hope social worker Dereje (black and white shirt) walked with SOH child Shibiru off the school compound to accompany us to the community water point.

Stay tuned for Part Two of our Spring of Hope WASH Project tour! 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Partnership to Empower Young Girls

Desta [adj.] = joyous, happy

We're so happy to announce a new partnership between 4others and Desta Girl at the Spring of Hope CarePoint! Desta Girl is an inspiring non-profit that aims to empower and equip women and girls throughout Ethiopia. They do this by delivering washable, reusable feminine hygiene products to teen students, while training girls and their mothers in proper menstrual hygiene and understanding.

Meet the leaders of Desta Girl: Cheri and Bob Rogers
In July 2010, Bob and Cheri Rogers were in Ethiopia to adopt their daughter. During their visit to the country, their eyes were opened to the vast needs of Ethiopian girls who struggle to stay in school after starting menstruation. God planted a seed in their hearts to do what they could for these girls. 

After returning home to the states, they connected with Children's HopeChest. The relational, holistic approach of the CHC model in child development resonated with the Rogers. Soon they were launching their first Desta Girl program at one of the CHC CarePoints in Ethiopia. 

Their vision: To expand the Desta Girl program until we have kits in the hands of every teen girl and woman in the Children's Hopechest CarePoints throughout Ethiopia!

Desta Girl comes to the Spring of Hope CarePoint this October!
Cheri Rogers is joining the Spring of Hope mission team in October to visit the children and families of Spring of Hope! While there, Cheri will host private training sessions with the oldest 28 girls of the CarePoint program.

"Part of the training is addressing and correcting the folklore surrounding menstruation," Cheri explains. "Sadly, a common perception in the culture is that menstruation is a curse. And when a woman's monthly bleeding stops with pregnancy, it's because she is blessed."

When Cheri trains the girls in the Desta Girl program, she educates the girls and their mothers on their bodies' biology, emphasizing the significant purpose of menstruation. It is not shameful. It is life-affirming! It's their bodies' way of preparing for the gift of life. 

The Desta Girl training encourages the girls to reject the culture of shame surrounding their natural development. They learn how to prepare for and manage their menstrual hygiene. 

At the end of their session, they're given beautiful menstrual hygiene kits. These kits are hand-sewn by volunteers across the USA and include: 

  • 1 cloth drawstring bag for transporting her kit to school 
  • ​4 bars of soap for laundering and self care
  • 2 pair of underwear
  • 2 moisture barrier shields to prevent leaking
  • 8 absorbent tri-fold pads for extra coverage, ease of washing and fast drying
  • 1 compact mirror to see that she is beautiful
  • 2 gallon sized ziploc bags to aid in laundering with little water
  • 1 visual instruction sheet

Needless to say, these girls will walk away feeling equipped and empowered to live with dignity! The training and supplies they'll receive will help the girls stay in school when menstruation starts. With the new private girls latrines and washroom at the Gosu Kora Primary School (funded by the Spring of Hope WASH Project), these girls will be fully equipped to stay strong, healthy, and confident as they study in school!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Hope Flows

Thanks to the generous contributions from so many friends and supporters, the Spring of Hope WASH Project is nearing its completion in Ambo, Ethiopia! When we first proposed the plan to bring clean water to the Spring of Hope community, it was a great step of faith — faith that God would somehow provide the funds we needed to make this possible. And He did just that! Within just 14 days of officially launching the fundraising campaign, the water project was fully funded! In fact, the overflow of generosity was so great it allowed us to immediately move on to the final phase of the Ambo community development project: Safe Sanitation. Thus, the Water Project transitioned into a comprehensive WASH Project (water, sanitation, & hygiene). Within two months, we raised the remaining funds to build new Boys & Girls LATRINES at the Gosu Kora Primary School! Now this school will soon have clean water and safe sanitation. Thank you for helping make this possible!

Clean water now flows at the Gosu Kora Primary School! And as of February 1st, the 500 students and staff at Gosu Kora now have clean water to quench their thirst during the school day. No more jumping over the school fence during break to search for a drink. No more eating their snacks with dirty hands. With the upcoming addition of new Boys and Girls Latrines at the school, the health of the students and the quality of their learning environment are sure to see dramatic improvement!

Hope Flows at Gosu Kora
THE WAIT IS OVER! As of yesterday, clean water now flows at the Gosu Kora Primary School in Ambo, Ethiopia! Where students used to jump the school fence during break to search for something to drink (often not returning in time to continue their classes), these 500 students and staff now have a reliable, safe way to quench their thirst right where they are! With new latrines also soon to come, the health of the students and the quality of their learning environment are sure to see dramatic improvement! #HopeFlows #WASHTHANK YOU to everyone who supported this project! YOU made this possible. And special thanks to our implementing partners, Stand for Vulnerable Organization - SVO and Water to Thrive, for their major roles in making this dream a reality. Now it's on to Phase Two: Bringing clean water to the surrounding rural community!
Posted by 4others on Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A second water point for the surrounding rural community is currently being constructed, with trenching to the site almost completed. Soon the rest of the Ambo community will have access to clean water for the first time in their history! Praise be to God!

Bringing clean water to the Gosu Kora Primary School and to the rural community required 2.4 km of trenching and excavation… all done by hand. Daily laborers used pickaxes and chisels to break through the hard earth. One day, because the pipeline needed a straight path to the new water points, they had to trench right through the middle of this man’s home! When our water partner came to thank him for his selfless act, they found him smiling as he began building his family a new home. “Why are you smiling about this?” they asked. Without hesitating, he replied, “It is more important for the children to have water.”

Creating mud to fill the walls of his family’s new home.
"Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well." Philippians 2:3-4

Sunday, September 27, 2015

One of Life's Bare Necessities

Guest Blog: A Word from a Spring of Hope Sponsor

Hi friends! I'd like to ask your help with something very dear and important to me. Many of you know that I have a sweet little sponsor child in Ambo Town, Ethiopia. Her name is Ayantu and she'll turn seven next month. She has the best smile you've ever seen. She loves math and cows are her favorite animal.
She also has no access to clean water in her community. None. Her family's only water source is the river, which is over an hour's walk away. It is used by animals as well as by people for washing, bathing, and drawing water to drink; as such, the residents of their rural community are often ill from waterborne illnesses.
We in California have had water on our minds an awful lot lately, what with the severe drought and fires. Water. Ubiquitous, but when threatened, suddenly recognized as so, so precious. Can you imagine walking over an hour each way to collect water for your family's needs? Can you imagine giving water to your children, knowing that it will likely make all of you sick? Can you imagine having no other option?
We knew that the water situation in Ambo was dire, but we did not fully grasp until recently how pervasive the problem is in people's lives. When I was a child in school, I went to a drinking fountain when I was thirsty. By contrast, Ayantu and her classmates must wait for their midday break to venture out into the community to search for water. There is none to be had at their school. Sometimes they'll get lucky and a neighbor will sacrifice a little of his/her own water (painstakingly carried by hand from the river) for the thirsty children. If not, the kids must get to the river as fast as they can to get a drink and try to make it back to class on time (or face discipline if they do not).
My heart breaks to think of my sweet little girl, not yet seven years old, searching for water to quench her thirst. If the water problem itself were not enough, she and her friends are vulnerable to kidnapping and exploitation when they are out on their own. Something has to change.
We are fundraising to extend a pipeline to the village school to provide a clean, safe water source not only to the children, but also to the community at large. Every $8.00 we raise will cover the cost of one foot of pipeline and the labor to install it. If you love children … if you have turned on a tap at your home today without thinking twice … if you are in a position to spare $8.00 … please consider helping. Through the end of October, a generous donor will match your contribution twice over, turning one foot of pipeline into three! Thank you for helping us to provide one of life's bare necessities to this community.
Written by Spring of Hope sponsor, McKenzie Ross.

If you would like to support this water project today, just click the image below!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Here we go!!

Spring of Hope Mission Trip
Our team of sponsors will be visiting the Spring of Hope CarePoint this August 17-24!
Here's a quick look at the trip activities:
Meeting the children's guardians and parents: Learning more about their families' stories and future plans.
Pants Shopping: Each day, a local clothing vendor will visit the CarePoint and the children will shop for a brand new pair of trousers! With the new shirts from their sponsors' Care Packages, they'll have a whole new outfit!
Clothing Repairs: Families are invited to bring tattered clothing to the CarePoint office, and we've hired a local seamstress who is thrilled for the large work order!
Home Visits: We look forward to the warm hospitality of these beautiful families as we fellowship with several of the children's families in their own homes. 
Bible Lesson: God made every child at the CarePoint so unique and special. We'll encourage the children to consider how they can use their talents and abilities to live for God and help others!
Writing Activity: The children will send special notes to their sponsors and friends in America, sharing special facts about themselves.
Care Packages: We'll sit with each child and read aloud your loving letters of encouragement. Then each child will open their bundle of gifts from you! There will be giggles, enormous smiles, and maybe even happy tears -- all because you cared enough to send them special gifts of hope. :)
Staff Field Trip: The CarePoint staff and volunteers are daily pouring their hearts into these children and families. Our team wants to spend some quality time with these wonderful, hard-working individuals, getting to know them better and also treating them to a fun day at the beautiful Guder River Falls.  
Sunday Worship: On Sunday morning, August 23rd, we'll attend a worship service at the CarePoint's partner church, Gosu Mekane Yesus Church. The children's choir might also perform songs!
Celebration Feast: The children successfully completed their second year of school, so we're gonna celebrate! The children will feast on lamb meat prepared with spices and veggies, injera, and even soda pop. Yummy!

Joining in Prayer
The team really appreciates your prayers of blessings for this visit! We hope God will give each team member the power to demonstrate the love of God and of all the sponsors to the children every day! 
Celebration of Hope is a special night for current Spring of Hope sponsors and friends to hear the inspiring stories and exciting updates from the CarePoint! We hope you can be a part of this special evening on Friday, September 11th, at 7:00-9:00 pm