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When you first meet Timara and her husband Bihon, you can't help but notice the powerful connection that runs between them.

Timara works as a hygiene promoter for WaterAid, and is passionate about creating a better future for her family and her community. It’s an opportunity she's worked incredibly hard for – and one Bihon has supported her to achieve every step of the way.

Sharing the dream of going to school

Timara and Bihon live with their son Bename and their daughter Wutinesh in Borkora, in the Konso region of Ethiopia.

Bihon first noticed Timara when she was selling food in the market. It took him a year to pluck up the courage to speak to her. At the time, he was in his final year at school – but Timara's experience of education was very different from her husband-to-be's.

"My parents had no awareness about sending girls to school," she explains. "I only went after I married. I discussed it with Bihon and he helped me start reading and encouraged me to go."

Timara and her husband Bihon.
Timara and Bihon outside their home in Borkora, Ethiopia. 

Now, Timara is making the most of her literacy skills and has become one of the most influential women in her village.

As well as working as a hygiene promoter, helping families to make improvements to their hygiene practices at home, Timara supports women with family planning decisions and is a leader of the local women's committee.

She's also a singer in the local choir, which was created after WaterAid installed a new waterpoint in Borkora; without the long walk to collect water every day from the old, dirty water source, the women in the community found they finally had enough time to sing.

Becoming a role model

"I started the hygiene promotion from my home, so people look to me as a model. They learn from me and try to do as I did," Timara tells us, as she explains the changes clean water and better hygiene have brought to everyone's lives.

"Before, there was no awareness. We defecated in the field and the flies came on to our food. Even our hens played with faeces and brought it into our homes. Now every household has their own toilet and people are aware, their lives are improving."

Timara with her son and daughter, eating food prepared hygenically with clean water.
The arrival of clean water in Borkora means Timara can prepare food hygienically for her family. 

And after more than 14 years of marriage, what's the key to her relationship with Bihon?

"What helps me and my husband work together is that we think the same way," Timara explains. "We decide something without arguments. We understand each other easily and we help our children together."

Find out how better hygiene can create lasting change >