I spend four or five days a week out in the field, teaching and training farmers to build the irrigation systems and wells that I have designed. I explain everything, I am alongside them every day.
Many water engineers work for contractors or in industry, but I am happy to work with the communities. Here, I see how jobs are created, how people are solving their own problems and I know that because of my work people are able to live. It’s not just my work, it’s the project and it’s CAFOD‘s support. But the message of thanks from the communities comes directly to me.
I enjoy doing hygiene training with children in schools. Children have such open minds. I want them to see that they have the potential to do anything. I want to encourage them – they each have a brain, they should be confident and plan to achieve what they want to achieve.
But the heavy workload for girls in rural areas makes it hard for them to study. During the day, girls spend hours walking to collect water. At night, even if they have time to study, there is no light to read by and they do not even have candles.
It is hard to be a girl and to want to be an engineer. Traditionally girls do not become engineers, but the girls in the communities where I work can see that I am doing that. I want to be an example to them, so that they achieve even more than I have.
I grew up in the city, where the air is polluted. I like it better here in the mountains. When I first came here, I was impressed by the greenness of the landscape and by the welcome and hospitality of the people. In the mountains I can think, it feels like heaven to me.
About the author: Lemlem Berhe is a water engineer with CAFOD partner the Adgirat Diocesan Catholic Secretariat. She is visiting the UK between 28 April – 15 May.