A moment that changes everything
10 December 2014

In Medhanealem village in Amhara, Ethiopia, the preparations started early.

At 9am people began streaming down the footpaths carrying food, drink and even a radio, ready for the day's celebrations.

For as long as they could remember, the community had survived on contaminated water that often made them ill. But this was the day when – for the first time ever – they would have access to safe, clean water, and things would never be the same again.

Watch the amazing moment when the new waterpoint was opened for the first time:

Many of the households in Medhanealem were directly involved in the construction of the new waterpoint, a process which was not without its difficulties.

"We started digging and until five or six metres it was almost hopeless, because the ground was so hard," says Melkie, secretary of the water committee set up to oversee the construction and management of the new well.

"But we persisted, and then we struck water at seven metres. We had to scoop out more than 40 jerrycans of muddy water overnight and used a generator to pump even more out after that, but it was worth it."

Children from Medhanealem village enjoy clean water from their new well.
Children from Medhanealem village enjoy water from their new waterpoint for the first time.

Azimmiw is also a member of the village water committee. She remembers vividly all the times dirty water from the old source, contaminated by cattle, donkeys and dogs, made her family ill.

"The quality of the water was so bad that we would get sick and our children would get sick," she explains.

"We had to pay people to carry our children to hospital on a stretcher, as there is no road for an ambulance. The problems we lived with as a result of a lack of clean water are indescribable."

Nega and his wife Azimmiw with their family.
The arrival of clean water means a brighter future for Azimmiw and her family.

With the construction of the well, life for everyone in Medhanealem village will change dramatically.

The new waterpoint is just a few minutes from people's homes, so they'll no longer face the long walk for water – giving the adults more time and energy to work on their farms, and their children the chance to lead happier, healthier lives.

"My son will grow up clean and healthy, because I will be able to wash him and raise him well," says Wubalem, who gave birth to her son just before clean water arrived in the village. "He is very lucky."