By Michele Heller
This June, people across America will take part in organized walks to help those in developing countries whose only available water, often contaminated and weighing up to forty pounds, must be carried over long distances to their homes and families. Walkers will make a determined effort to help raise money and awareness in support of a solution for providing clean water for this most basic human need.
You too, can get involved in this issue on Lopez Island Saturday, June 4, 11 a.m. – 2p.m. at the Lopez School tennis court parking lot. Walk whatever distance you like on the Fitness and Ecology Trail. Carrying forty pounds of water while you walk is optional, at least for us here on Lopez.
Right here on Lopez Island, local residents, Marta, Solomon and Emebet, adopted by Susan Bill, will be leading a walk to support the members of their village of Anaci, Ethiopia.
This will be the beginning of the Bill children’s effort to help their relatives and loved ones in the village of their birth, by inviting others to join them in building a simple system that will enable access to water that is safe and clean, thus preventing disease and hardship.
“We have already raised half the money needed for this vital project, and we hope to build the water system at the beginning of the dry season this November,” explains Marta Bill, age 17. She and her brother, Solomon, and sister, Emebet had the idea to help their village after a visit that reunited them with their grandmother, uncles and cousins last year.
“We are fortunate to have the help and support of an experienced mentor, Ezra Teshome, who was born in Ethiopia and lives in Seattle. In cooperation with the University Rotary of Seattle, he has helped build more than 50 successful water projects in Ethiopia,” continues Marta. “We met Ezra nine years ago when we first arrived in this country after our adoption. We did not know that, years later, Ezra would also help us in our effort to bring safe water to our village.”
Solomon, age 16, adds, ”We hope a lot of people will attend the event on Saturday, to broaden their world view — it is a learning opportunity, and it will be a lot of fun.”