“Give me a piece of paper and a pen.” Julia Konga was one of the first women I spoke to this summer on my trip to Tanzania and Ethiopia. She used that pen to write down a list of diseases her family suffered before Water to Thrive funded a well in her community ... a list that was beyond understanding. Water to Thrive’s tagline “Build wells, change lives” is being lived in the most immediate way by Julia’s family and village.
As we look at 2015, we celebrate . Water to Thrive is making real change in the lives of so many in the rural villages we serve. Funded water projects now number nearly 650, giving more than 350,000 people access to clean, disease-free water within a 15-minute walk of their homes. Children aren’t sick as often and have more opportunity to attend school. Women aren’t burdened with hours of walking every day to haul water to and from a dirty stream or contaminated river. Human suffering has been lessened and life has improved for people like Julia and so many others.
. I was hired as Water to We celebrate Thrive’s first Executive Director in May of this year, with founder Dick Moeller focusing his attention on water projects. I’m honored and thrilled to be part of W2T’s evolution, from its birth in a Bible study group at Triumphant Love Lutheran Church to its growth into a successful nonprofit. As the torch is passed, my focus will be on strategic planning and expanding both the number of projects funded and the base of support from our donors.
We celebrate . It is only because of the connection with people who have a heart to give that our work is possible. This year, we have had many new campaigns started by individuals like Homer and Mary Goering, who traveled with us this June to Ethiopia. They funded a well, and then shared their experience with others. This work of grace and witness led to funding for at least three more wells. We celebrate and thank our donors, our advocates, and our volunteers!
in villages As we look to 2016, we see dire all across Africa. We plan to share our mission and impact through outreach, marketing, and partnerships. Through awareness and collaborative partnerships, we will fund even more water projects and continue to build wells and change lives. We ask you to join us by sharing our mission, message, and impact with others. Follow our journey online and in social media, and contact us if you would like information and resources to share with your church, school, or community. Thank you again for your dedication to our vision of a world where we share our gifts and blessings to provide health, hope, and water to all.
Susanne Wilson, Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Clean water saves lives Water to Thrive works in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania, three of the poorest countries in east Africa. With each well we are able to build, the situation is improving, but there is much more to be done. In Ethiopia alone, more than 65 million people live without access to safe, clean drinking water. Millions of women and children spend four to six hours each day walking to collect dirty, contaminated water for their families. One jerry can filled with five gallons of water can weigh 40 to 60 pounds. Unsafe water transmits water-borne diseases in nearly 50 percent of the rural African population. In Ethiopia, one in six children die before the age of five, and half of those deaths are caused by dehydration and diarrhea. Children who donâ€™t succumb to disease face lives of poverty, and time spent gathering water reduces their opportunity for education that will help lift them and their communities.
Working together Working with in-country partners, Water to Thrive is able to identify locations for water projects that will benefit entire communities and regions. An integral part of any water project is the local water committee, composed of village members who take responsibility for the well and the best practices for its use. The water committees are supported by project officers like Gashaw Semeneh, who visits our Ethiopian projects and works to maintain the scheduling and support for each well being built. Local projects are also fostered by such Water to Thrive initiatives as 2015â€™s development of a best practices and standards document, spearheaded by interns Lars Anderson and Thomas Howard. Lars, an engineering student at Valparaiso University, and Thomas, a University of Texas senior, traveled to Africa to gather first-hand information, then spent the rest of their summer crafting the standards.
Wahid Abraha at the new Akuweini well with her three-year-old grandson Amanuel and his friend Filemon.
Why water matters In one way or another, water has dominated 46-year-old Wahid Abraha’s life. From the time she was born, she regularly suffered from water-related diseases contracted by drinking water collected from the stream that borders Akuweini, her village in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region. With the nearest health post over an hour’s walk away, getting treatment for these conditions was time-consuming and costly. She almost died several times from diarrhea simply because it was too challenging to seek treatment. Then, about 10 years ago, a neighboring village installed a hand-dug well, meaning Abraha and her family would not have to drink from the unprotected stream any more. But this new source of health would exact a toll on Abraha in other ways. In spite of the fact the well was only half an hour away, it was not unusual for Abraha to spend eight hours a day collecting her water. “We weren’t the only two villages getting our water from the well and the line to fill our jerry cans was always very long,” Abraha said. “It was very common to wait for six hour or more to get to the front of the line.” During the dry season, the flow of water was so reduced that each household was limited to a single five-gallon jerry can each day. “It was never enough. I have a husband and five children and we were always thirsty,” Abraha said. “It was better than being sick all the time but it was still very hard.” Thankfully, since a Water to Thrive-funded hand-dug well was installed in her village in December 2014, all of Abraha’s water problems have disappeared. The new well is just five minutes from her house. According to Abraha, she’s healthier and happier than she’s ever been. She’s also come up with a unique way to spend her newfound time by rural Ethiopian standards. “I’m going to spend that time looking after my first grandchild,” she said. “I never really had the opportunity to do this with my children and I love it.”
The joy of giving One of the highlights of our June 2015 trip to Africa — of all of 2015, really — was the surprise we had in store for Water to Thrive supporters Mary and Homer Goering. On several occasions, the Goerings had seen reports about the global water crisis, and this led them to consider what they could do to help. After exploring several options, they heard a W2T presentation at Homer’s Rotary club and decided to fund a well. They knew this would provide a long-term benefit for a significant number of villagers in a remote rural area of Africa. After funding a well in February, they decided to join the June mission trip, to see for themselves how completed wells pumping clean, safe water benefited the remote rural villages in Ethiopia. As the Water to Thrive group approached the village on foot after a long drive of several hours, the joyous sounds of celebration could be heard. Flags snapped in the breeze. Greenery waved in the hands of villagers gathered just ahead. Drumming, clapping, and ululations filled the air. The Goerings certainly had not anticipated that they would see the specific well they had funded a few months earlier, but that is indeed what was happening. It was an amazing accomplishment for the well to be completed in time for their visit and was a total surprise for the Goerings! The inauguration of the well took place as the Goerings cut the ribbon and pumped the fresh, clean water. The villagers had prepared a feast of specially baked bread, coffee, nuts and honey. Thanks to an excellent translator, village leaders were able to communicate to their visitors the dramatic benefits of the well. The villagers’ health would improve, the children would have better attendance at school, and the infants’ mortality rate would be significantly reduced. The women would no longer have to carry heavy cans of polluted water for four to six hours each day, and the incidents of rape on those journeys to a water source would be eliminated. Since returning, Mary and Homer have been involved in sharing their story with groups and individuals. This has led to several funding commitments for additional wells. Reflecting on the trip, they say that traveling with the Water to Thrive group in Ethiopia was a life-changing, informative, emotional and rewarding experience. Coming face to face with the poverty of the villages clearly illustrated the stark difference between American daily living versus the villagers daily struggles just to survive. They also observed some important similarities – the need to provide for family, communities that share both hardships and celebrations, and a faith in God’s blessings, communities that share both hardships and celebrations.
Working for the wells Water to Thrive depends on our supporters to help fund water projects, whether through individual or group gifts, our Water Angels major gift program, specific well-funding campaigns, or attendance at one of our signature events. In four short years, Chefs Table Austin has become a much anticipated event, bringing our supporters together with some of Austin’s finest chefs for an auction of personalized dinners. Nationally recognized chefs like Chef David Bull of Congress, Chef Tyson Cole of Uchi, and Chefs Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya Matsumoto of Ramen Tatsu-Ya lend their creativity and talent to provide an unforgettable dinner experience for the highest bidder. Plans are in the works to bring this exciting event to Houston in 2016. Our 5K race, The Pump Run, suffered a weather cancellation this year, but is on track again with a new hosting partner, Concordia University, and an early spring calendar slot. In addition to the on-campus 5K and Kids’ K, 2016 will see the inauguration of our Virtual 5K, allowing our supporters to run 3.1 miles at any time in any place during the week leading up to the race, submitting their self-reported results for inclusion in the race chronicle. Then there are individual efforts, like the one started by young Kaleb Lamb of Austin. Kaleb was adopted from Ethiopia, and for his sixth birthday, he decided he wanted to build a well in his birth country. “I asked my friends and family to help me,” he told local television station KVUE. “Because I don’t want any more moms and dads to die...and no more children to die.” Kaleb quickly raised the $5,000 needed for one well, and with that happy success, has been working to raise funds for a second well (watertothrive.org/campaigns, search “Kaleb”). Finally, while Water to Thrive directs 100 percent of all full project sponsorships and 100 percent of all donations over $1000 to the water work, we would not be able to operate this way without the Water Angels major donor group. Water Angels are our special group of supporters who commit to giving $1000 or more each year specifically to fund operations — marketing, partnerships, fundraising, and travel to manage programs in the field. We, in turn, work hard to keep administrative costs low, and are proud to note that those costs have been a lower percentage of our outlay each year (see chart, page 11, for the most current numbers).
Follow our progress To locate a specific project, visit www.watertothrive.org/projects_map
2014 Full Project Sponsors The most active 2014 campaigns were held at Camp Luther Summer Camp in Wisconsin; Canyon Vista Middle School in Round Rock, Texas; and the Springs for Life campaign at St. Clement’s Catholic Church in Saratoga Springs, NY.
2014 Campaigns for Tanzania
2014 Campaigns for Ethiopia Abiding Love Lutheran Church, Austin, TX Abiding Presence Lutheran Church, San Antonio, TX (Clareen Hencey) Carl Adix Well Fund Bob Avers Memorial The Belachew Family Bethany Lutheran Church The Boozikee Family John and Cindy Buford Canyon Vista Middle School, Round Rock, TX Virginia Carlson Christ Lutheran Church, Brenham, TX Concordia University Texas, Austin, TX Faith Community & St. Martin’s Lutheran Churches Faith Lutheran Church, Austin, TX Faith Lutheran Church, Bellaire, TX First Lutheran Church, Temple, TX Rich and Bets Frahm Jeff and Drenda Hall Carolyn Harper Feida Hartfield Hope Lutheran Church, Temecula, CA
Andrew Huang Illinois State University Bill and Carol Kaemmerer The Kovach Family The Krause Family Love of Christ Lutheran Medtronic, Inc. Mehlhaus Fund Dr. Joel E. Reed St. Clements Catholic Church, Saratoga Springs, NY St. John Lutheran Church, Bellville, TX St. John Lutheran Church, Poth, TX St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Waco, TX St. Paul Lutheran Church, Yorktown, TX Erline Sager and Family The Senske Family Carl and Claire Stuart Akash Thaker Thrivent Community – Arbors Trinity Lutheran Church, New Ulm, TX Zion Lutheran Church, San Antonio, TX
Calvary Lutheran Church, West Chester, PA New Life Lutheran Church, Pearland, TX Oak Hill UMC, Austin, TX Palm Valley Lutheran Church, Round Rock, TX Pat Day Pastor Grant and Sue Quever St Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church, Metairie, LA Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Moline, IL Wartburg College, Waverly, IA W2T World Water Day Campaign Donors
2014 Campaigns for Uganda Lynne Dobson in2agua, Stuttgart, Germany William (Brent) McCarty Matthew Nauss Liz and Gary Nauert St Luke’s, St Peter’s, and Zion Lutheran Churches, Goliad and Cuero, TX THIRST - Alaska: Youth of Fairbanks, First Presbyterian Church, Fairbanks, AK W2T Uganda Event Donors
Total contributions through 2014: $4,178,446* *Total contributions for W2T from inception to December 31, 2014, are based on unaudited financial statements, not including a startup grant from Thrivent Financial. These expenditures are made possible by restricted gifts that are identified by donors and sponsors, designated for specific water projects, and by unrestricted gifts that cover operating expenses from Water Angels, an annual 5K race, and other fundraising activities. Detailed financials for each year (IRS Form 990) and audited financial statements for 2011 and 2012 are available at watertothrive.org.
Past projects Current projects
Water to Thrive in-country partners
Water to Thrive Board of Directors Dick Moeller, President Ed Scharlau, Treasurer Jim Sorensen, Secretary Carol Kaemmerer Lynne Dobson
A Glimmer of Hope, Ethiopia International Lifeline Fund, Uganda Mekane Yesus Central Gibe Synod, Ethiopia Mekane Yesus South Central Ethiopia Synod, Ethiopia Organization for the Redevelopment of Amhara, Ethiopia Oromia Development Association, Ethiopia Relief Society of Tigray, Ethiopia St. Paul Partners, Tanzania