Drilling for Change in Ethiopia
Ethiopia is one of the least developed countries in the world. In recent decades, terrible droughts and famines have endangered the livelihoods of thousands of individuals in their agriculturally based economy. This is a major contributing factor to the widespread, devastating poverty many Ethiopians are experiencing today.
Most Ethiopians live in rural areas, and many of these communities are familial. In isolated areas, extended families will live in groupings of thatched huts. Often the children will call one another "brother" and "sister" rather than "cousin," and adults are often referred to as "mother" and "father."
Seventy-four percent of the population lives in rural societies that occupy rugged highlands, forests, and plains, frequently outside the reach of clean water access. This statistic makes Ethiopia one of the least-reached areas in the world. Its lack of infrastructure makes the situation doubly difficult because many rural settlements do not have roads, and rough terrain makes it difficult for drilling operations to travel through.
Tigist Teshome lives in one of these areas. She was born in Harewach'a, a town several hours east of Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa. Her village did not have access to potable water. All they had was an unprotected pond that put village members at constant risk for illnesses and disease. Not only was this their sole water source, but it was also an hour's walk away—a task that fell on the women and girls of the community.
Tigist was one of the few women who wasn't kept from school as a girl because of her water-fetching responsibilities. She was orphaned at age six but was still able to attend both elementary and secondary school. She was eventually trained as a teacher at East Hararege Zone College.
After her graduation from college, she heard about World Vision's WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) team training sessions, which taught local people how to operate manual drilling machines. Along with many other unemployed youth in her area, Tigist became a trained manual drilling operator. Tigist's entrepreneurial spirit eventually earned her the position of financial manager for the Burkito Bishan Manual Drilling Enterprise, which she co-founded in November 2012. She is a believer and expresses that her faith is an important part of what she does:
"Sometimes when we're working in remote areas, we have to keep on working through the weekends. For me, Sunday is the day that I worship my Lord, and so I want to go to church. But as I said, I have to keep on working on Sundays. I am able to accept this because deep down I know it's for a good cause, apart from earning a salary to support my family, I do it for my sisters who have to walk long distances to fetch water. I know because of our work they will be able to get clean water nearby. However, there are times, difficult times, that I believe if it had not been for my faith, I wouldn't have been able to make it this far."