How do you imagine heaven? For me, heaven is a wide, open landscape full of trees and green grass. This is what I saw when I arrived in England.
Where I come from, Adigrat in northern Ethiopia, the landscape is dry and rocky. When the rain comes, it is heavy and destructive, so we rarely see the bright green landscape I have experienced here.
One of the reasons I am so interested in the topography of different areas is because I am a water and sanitation engineer. In Ethiopia, the topography of an area directly affects a community’s access to water. This is where I contribute; by looking at what the landscape has to offer, and building reservoirs, canals and springs to bring water to people, animals and crops.
As an example of what can be achieved in water engineering, I often tell people the story of a young girl called Rigiaet. Before I built a spring in Rigiaet’s village, this six-year-old had to walk a long way each morning to collect water for her family. Rigiaet told me, “I wake up at 6am to fetch water before I go to class. Sometimes I am late to school. I fetch water three times a day with my ten-litre container. The water is not clean.”
Although Rigiaet now has access to a clean water spring, the same is not true for many young girls in Ethiopia. Seeing how my input in developing irrigation and water supplies is improving the lives of people living in dry areas is what makes me happiest in my job.
It is these stories that I have been sharing over the past three weeks as part of CAFOD’s Thirst for change campaign. I have travelled all over England, talking in schools, colleges and parishes about water and sanitation in Ethiopia. Continue reading
Filed under CAFOD, Ethiopia
Total miles walked: 155
Total action cards collected: 1,939 (plus one parish still uncounted) This exceeds my target of 1,550 by 389.
Number of talks given: 15
Total sponsorship received or pledged: £1,459.50 (to be doubled by UKAid match)
Number of blisters: 3
On the day before the campaign hand-in, my pilgrimage ended. But perhaps the most significant part of the walk was still to come: the walk along Downing Street to No.10.
After enjoying a celebratory pint with CAFOD Director Chris Bain and my parish priest Eddie Clare, I was welcomed to CAFOD’s offices at Romero House with a tea and cake reception.
My feeling were mixed: elation because it was over; satisfaction because I achieved what I set out to do; and expectation that the campaign would actually achieve something significant.
Read more about the hand-in and watch a slideshow of photos >
When the news broke that the Millennium Development Goal on water had been met five years early, we all cheered! In the face of such an achievement, some people asked: do we still need to Thirst for change?
BBC Environment correspondent Roger Harrabin has commented on how these statistics may over-estimate the number of people who really do have clean, safe water to drink.
So, as we prepare to deliver over 50,000 actions calling for an end to water poverty to Downing Street on 15 May, we take a closer look behind the statistics. Here, we highlight three that you might have missed – and show why these numbers add up to a compelling reason to keep on campaigning.
Read about our Thirst for change campaign >
Well, I set off alone, but I didn’t stay alone for long.
As I rounded the corner of the Cathedral, there was my former colleague Mark waiting for me. He was all ready to start walking alongside me for the first eight miles of my pilgrimage. I had given him a time to meet after the commissioning and that was when he chose to join me.
I was glad to see him, and also to be joined later by Mark’s wife and 14-month-old daughter – our youngest campaigner so far – for a sunny stroll along the canal path.
Canals are pleasant enough, but different from the places I usually like to walk, such as the Lake District or the Wicklow mountains. I could never tire of that kind of scenery, but I know I will be looking at a lot of towpaths over the next few days, which is why I’m especially grateful for company now.
After such a gentle start on day one, I was ready to get going again the next morning.
I was joined by Helen from the CAFOD Birmingham office and two more parishes sent representatives to walk with me along the route: St Augustine’s in Solihull and St George and St Theresa of the Child Jesus in Dorridge.
Act now: Call on the PM for safe water for all > Continue reading
Copyright Jozef Lopuszynski
9am on a sunny Sunday morning in Birmingham.
Eleven of us are gathered outside St Chad’s cathedral: myself, my wife, a long-standing friend, staff from the local CAFOD office, two people from St Ann’s parish from the other side of the city centre, an Archbishop and a small boy dressed as a water droplet.
The water droplet – eight-year-old Eddie – really added to the occasion. He had volunteered to dress up and the costume looked made-to-measure.
We were there so that Archbishop Bernard Longley could commission me on my 155-mile walk along the Grand Union canal to raise awareness of CAFOD’s Thirst for change campaign.
Take action to turn the tide on water poverty now > Continue reading